Thursday, February 02, 2006

Guns and Money

Hamas may have won control of Parliament, but in Palestinian politics influence and personal loyalty still count for quite a bit, and perhaps more than loyalty to processes and institutions. The Jerusalem Post is reporting on Muhammad Dahlan's efforts to keep the Gaza security forces under Fatah's - aka his - control. I don't know for sure, but I suspect constitutionally they would fall under Presidential authority, and Mahmoud Abbas is still the President. However, a deeper issue here is that they are Fatah loyalists, and one reason Hamas may be floating the idea of a Palestinian army may be doubt over whether they can transfer their allegiance to whomever is in charge.

Closely linked to this is the problem of money. Already, we've seen militant cells theoretically under Fatah auspices financially co-opted by Iran. An interesting question is whether Fatah's loss of control over foreign aid could lead to more foreign influence over their security apparatus. This may be part of why Israeli's defense establishment is recommending the continued transfer of funds to the PA. I also suspect that is why relatively friendly Gulf states also might fill any gap. Cutting off aid may sound good, and the United States at least will avoid funding a Hamas government for both domestic political reasons and our diplomatic posture. However, I'm starting to think the furthest anyone will go without further provocation is working it through alternative channels while maintaining intense pressure for moderation on issues of concern.


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