Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Yassin Stuff

Roger K. Simon links to a Ma'ariv story claiming that the Bush administration offered Yassin immunity from assassination in exchange for an end to terror attacks. Simon notes what this says about the U.S./Israel relationship. I would add it also says something about the Bush administration's approach to Israeli/Palestinian issue. I think any Palestinian state will have people with ties to terrorism in the leadership, just like Israel did when it was first founded. If the Ma'ariv report is accurate, then it suggests that Bush at least is taking a pragmatic view of the situation.

Meanwhile, Juan Cole (who has really let fly some rhetoric lately) explores the implications of Israel's targeting of Yassin for the U.S. occupation in Iraq. Cole might be correct that arresting Yassin would have been politically wiser, but despite my pro-Palestinian sympathies, I can never quite feel upset by "extrajudicial killings." One can argue that terrorism is often a form of warfare waged by non-state actors against states. Certainly the terrorists often think so. If you consider yourself a soldier in a war and set things up so that the whole country is a battlefield, then attempts by the other side to kill you would seem legitimate.

Yassin's replacement is Abd al-Aziz Rantisi, as was expected. However, another Hamas leader stated that soon the group would hold elections. Israel will continue to target the Hamas leadership. Abu Aardvark notes what al-Hurra's (lack of) coverage of the assassination says about that network, while Martin Kramer tells the International Herald Tribune that "He can't be reporduced."

What do I think? I have no idea what this will mean in the long term. In the short term, there will definitely be an increase in violence. Hamas has already said they will expand their attacks outside of Israel, which could lead to more cooperation with global networks such as al-Qaeda. The other major unknown piece on the board is the timing and manner of the Gaza pull-out, which I still think this assassination is related to.


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