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Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sinking the Mideast further into violence and despair.

The Mideast is always hard for outsiders to understand, as the failure of decades of US policy in the region should make blindingly obvious. According to journalist Rami Khouri of the Beiruit-based Daily Star, observers of the Mideast tend to see the region's politics in simple black-and-white terms: Israel vs Palestine, Arabs vs Jews, good vs evil. This oversimplification is particularly obvious in how Dubya's administration — and much of the US media — are viewing the current conflict between Israel and Lebanon. Instead of being a fight between good and evil, as the prez would have it, the conflict is really the results of decades of action by fours pairs of actor that keep the Mideast in turmoil: Hamas and Hezbollah; Palestine and Lebanon; Syria and Iran; and Israel and the US.

In a fairly short piece for Agence Global, Khouri manages to make more sense out of the current state of the Mideast than almost anything I've seen. Here's some of what he has to say:

Hezbollah and Hamas emerged in the past decade as the main Arab political forces that resist the Israeli occupations in Lebanon and Palestine. They enjoy substantial popular support in their respective countries, while at the same time eliciting criticisms for their militant policies that inevitably draw harsh Israeli responses. We see this in Lebanon today as the Lebanese people broadly direct their anger at Israel for its brutal attacks against Lebanese civilian installations and fault Palestinians, other Arabs, Syria and Iran for perpetually making Lebanon the battleground for other conflicts -- but more softly question Hezbollah's decision to trigger this latest calamity.

It is no coincidence that Israel is now simultaneously bombing and destroying the civilian infrastructure in Palestine and Lebanon, including airports, bridges, roads, power plants, and government offices. It claims to do this in order to stop terror attacks against Israelis, but in fact the past four decades have shown that its policies generate exactly the opposite effect: They have given birth, power, credibility and now political incumbency to the Hamas and Hezbollah groups whose raison d'être has been to fight the Israeli occupation of their lands. Israeli destruction of normal life for Palestinians and Lebanese also results in the destruction of the credibility, efficacy and, in some cases, the legitimacy of routine government systems, making the Lebanese and Palestinian governments key actors in current events -- or non-actors in most cases.

The Lebanese and Palestinians have responded to Israel's persistent and increasingly savage attacks against entire civilian populations by creating parallel or alternative leaderships that can protect them and deliver essential services. With every new Israeli attack against the Hamas and Hezbollah leadership or the civilian populations, four important things happen, and will probably happen during this round of war: The Lebanese and Palestinian governments lose power and impact; Hamas and Hezbollah garner greater popular support, which enhances their effectiveness in guerrilla and resistance warfare; they expand their military technical capabilities (mainly longer-range missiles and better improvised explosive devices); and the anti-Israel, anti-U.S. resistance campaign led by Hamas and Hezbollah generates widespread political and popular support throughout the Middle East and much of the world.

According to Khouri, Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel and the other partners will be unable to break out of their current 'death dance' until they are willing to give up the failed policies that have kept the various Mideast conflicts alive for decades.

The way to break this cycle is for all actors to negotiate a political solution that responds to their legitimate grievances and demands. Everyone involved seems prepared to do this, except for Israel and the United States, who rely on military force, prolonged occupations, and diplomatic sanctions and threats. What will Israel and the United States do when there are no more Arab airports, bridges and power stations to destroy? The futility of such policies should be clear by now, and therefore a diplomatic solution should be sought seriously for the first time.

Read the rest of the article here. It's really worth your time.

| | Posted by Magpie at 10:48 AM | Get permalink

Liar, liar, pants on fire!


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