2007-06-17

Morning Report: June 17, 2007

The two-state solution. Noah Pollak at Michael Totten's Middle East Journal has a roundup on the two Palestines. Go read the whole thing, but I'm going to cite Khaled Abu Toameh here:
Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Arafat in January 2005, had run on a platform that promised Palestinians an end to corruption, mismanagement and nepotism. That's why more than 60 percent of the Palestinians then gave him a mandate.

But after Abbas came to power, he did almost nothing to fulfill his pledges. Instead of fighting corruption, he surrounded himself with symbols of corruption and former Arafat cronies. ...

Amir Taheri, writing in the Times, explains that Hamas, having expelled Fatah, takes over Fatah's lucrative protection racket. On an ideological level, though, here's the nucleus of the conflict:
The longer-term cause of the duel is the deep ideological divisions in Palestinian society: Hamas is religious, Fatah secular. Hamas is pan-Islamist, Fatah Palestinian nationalist.

Translation: Say goodbye to that last brewery in Gaza. Mikey at Harry's Place ponders the implications for "pro-Palestinian" activists in the West. Meanwhile, Arutz Sheva reports that the two Palestines have gotten busy on the important work of not recognizing each other:
Abbas declared that the Hamas armed militia will be outlawed and disbanded. In response, Haniyeh said he had decided to fire the top PA security officials, including the commander of internal security, Rashid Abu Shabak, and the PA's chief of police.

And finally, Maynard at Tammy Bruce reports that Yasser Arafat and his Nobel Peace Prize are finally getting the respect they deserve.

CTB: Jemaa Islamiya updates. Zachary Abuza at the Counterterrorism Blog reports: 'Indonesian authorities announced yesterday that another top JI leader, Zarkasih, often referred to as Nu’aim, was captured in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, the same day as Abu Dujana’s arrest. It is a remarkable blow against JI. Like Dujana, Nu’aim was trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and served as a trainer in Mindanao. In a press conference yesterday, Dujana admitted to being the head of JI’s military wing and that Nu’aim was the amir, or overall head of the organization since 2005. Clearly the loss of two first-generation, Al Qaeda trained operatives from the dwindling pool of leadership, is a major blow for the terrorist organization.' Kenneth Conboy has more details on JI's embattled leadership:
Based on initial interrogations of top Jemaah Islamiyah members who were captured over the past week, the Indonesian police are now painting a picture of a terrorist organization attempting to consolidate in the face of heavy attrition.

According to the police, JI has now done away with its earlier region-wide mantiqi ("regional command") structure. Previously, JI had four mantiqi covering large portions of Southeast Asia and Australia. At its peak (prior to late 2002), each mantiqi consisted of up to a dozen wakilah, and each wakilah were comprised of several fiah, or cells. Overseeing all this was a markaz, a small headquarters consisting of top JI members.

It is now understood that JI still recognizes a markaz. But under the markaz, JI now divides itself into four ishoba which only cover the Indonesian island of Java. These ishoba are named after historical figures in Islam. ...

Late justice, but justice still. Or Does It Explode: 'A former member of the Klu Klux Klan has been convicted of murdering two black teenagers back in 1964, at the height of the civil rights struggle in the US. It's a sign of hope that perhaps those perpetrating civil rights abuses today will eventually face justice ...'. CNN: 'A jury on Thursday convicted reputed Klansman James Ford Seale of kidnapping and conspiracy in the 1964 deaths of two black teenagers in southwest Mississippi, grisly drownings that went unpunished before federal prosecutors re-examined the forgotten case. Seale, 71, faces life in prison in the deaths of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee. The 19-year-olds disappeared from Franklin County on May 2, 1964, and their bodies were found later in the Mississippi River.'

Commentary. So, what's in store for Israel and the two Palestines now? I'm guessing Hamas down in Gaza may link up with their islamist pals up north across the Lebanese border, Hezbollah. Like Hamas, Hezbollah is islamist, not secular-arabist, in ideology (they're backed by Iran, after all), and rejects even the pretense of accepting Israel's existence. So the logical next step would be for Hezbollah and Hamas to launch a coordinated attack and force Israel to fight a two-front war ... unless Syria decides to make a grab for the Golan, in which case it'd be a three-front war.

Probably Israel is not going to just sit around waiting for this to happen. The Times: 'ISRAEL’s new defence minister Ehud Barak is planning an attack on Gaza within weeks to crush the Hamas militants who have seized power there. According to senior Israeli military sources, the plan calls for 20,000 troops to destroy much of Hamas’s military capability in days. The raid would be triggered by Hamas rocket attacks against Israel or a resumption of suicide bombings. Barak, who is expected to become defence minister tomorrow, has already demanded detailed plans to deploy two armoured divisions and an infantry division, accompanied by assault drones and F-16 jets, against Hamas.' But Israel Matzav comments:
My first comment about this story is to consider the source. I have noted in the past that Uzi Mahnaimi is an extreme leftist who looks for any excuse to make Israel look bad. In January, Mahnaimi reported that Israel was going to attack Iran's nuclear facilities with 'tactical nuclear weapons.' The report came with lots of details about what Israel was going to do - like this report. We're still waiting for it to happen. ...

Go to Carl's post for a detailed analysis, with an update citing the Captain. Captain Ed concludes:
Israel has to do something about Hamastan, without a doubt, but the question is what can they do most effectively. They would be better off taking out the major military points of Hamas and sealing off Gaza. Otherwise, the Israelis would not only have to roll across the entirety of Gaza, but they would also have to re-occupy it to keep Hamas from rising up again in the vacuum of their withdrawal. That does not sound like a promising use of the IDF, especially while Lebanon and Syria threaten Israeli security from the north.

Carl agrees:
My guess is that most of the 'major military points' can be taken out from the air (although they may need some bunker buster bombs for the tunnels). I don't believe Hamas is as well entrenched underground as Hezbullah is and with the sandy soil in Gaza, it would be much harder to dig down deeper.

Shlomo Brom at Israpundit has a lengthy analysis.