Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Regime Change Hamas

I disagree with the assessment that regime change of Hamas would be a positive step to take. On the contrary, if such a plan were executed, it would be doing Hamas the biggest favor it could wish for at the moment. Here is why.

The election of Hamas leaves it with either one of two options; 1) Assume responsibility on behalf of the Palestinian people, or 2) Decline its elected responsibility. It can't take the second option, because that would make it look awfully childish and cause it to lose its credibility among the Palestinian electorate. So that leaves it with no choice but the first option, and it is not liking this particular corner very much.

The election of hard-line Hamas is a positive thing for the following reason: Now that you are elected leader of the Palestinian people, show us what you can do. Assuming responsibility on behalf of the Palestinian people in reality means being held responsible for its actions by the international community and its own people. No longer can it execute suicide bombings against Israel and get away with it; it will be held accountable as the government of Palestine, by Israel, the international community of nations and the clear majority of Palestinians who got them elected. So in reality, now that Hamas is in the forefront of Palestinian politics, one way or another it has no choice but to soften its positions towards Israel and deal with it (and de facto recognize it, whether it will choose to admit to this publicly or not), just as Fatah previously did.

This proposed move towards regime change on the other hand will give Hamas the perfect pretext for it to step down from its currently difficult position. Once again, it will escape being held responsible by anyone as it acts freely as the main power broker behind Palestinian politics, while it hides comfortably behind the government of Fatah. Contrast this to the first option where Hamas would have been cornered politically and left no choice but to reform its hard-line positions which have been a thorn in the back of the Middle East peace process for so long. Furthermore, in the event of a regime change it will only use this to gain more political ground with its hard-line supporters by pointing that the US and its allies evidently have no real desire for representative democracy.

The only necessary ingredient for this formula to succeed is for Egypt to maintain a far enough distance from the machinations of Palestinian politics in this coming period, so as not to give anyone a chance to blame Egyptian political pressure for the decisions made by the Palestinian parties. It must be made clear to all, most importantly to the Palestinian people themselves, that the decisions they have made were reached on their own. And it must be crystal clear that they - not their traditional scapegoat of Egypt - are responsible for the consequences of the decisions they make.

On this track, I think the Arab-Israeli conflict will soundly be on its way to be solved.


Roheet Shah said...

I write to inform you about a new essay contest launched by the American Islamic Congress on civil rights in the Middle East. Anyone under the age of 26 can enter, and finalists can win up to $2,000 in cash prizes.

The "Dream Deferred Essay Contest" (see ) challenges young Americans and young Middle Easterners to express constructive ideas for individual rights in the world's least-free region.

Judges for the essay contest include Gloria Steinem (founder of Ms. Magazine), the Cato Institute's Tom Palmer, Azar Nafisi (author of Reading Lolita in Tehran), as well as noted Middle Eastern bloggers Ammar Abdulhamid of Syria and Mahmoud Al-Yousif from Bahrain.

We are hoping to awaken young people to the reform efforts of indigenous Middle Eastern progressives and to engage them in this discussion. Several hundred Americans have already submitted essays, but we would like to reach out to students on campus so you can enter before our deadline, on March 31st, 2006.

We encourage you to submit an essay and, if possible, write about the contest in your blog so that as many people can know about this opportunity as possible.

Please feel free contact me at with any questions or concerns, and thank you in advance.

--Roheet Shah


Program Officer Intern

HAMSA: Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance

(a project of the American Islamic Congress)

Seneferu said...

Thank you for the invitation, Roheet. I advise you to send this to Sandmonkey, it will be well publicized there.