Former UK PM Blair’s admission that it was wrong to boycott Hamas is typical of Western politicians who gain wisdom after they leave office, but Hamas can turn this to its advantage, says ‘Urayb ar-Rintawi
by Urayb ar-Rintawi – ad Dustour
Former British PM Tony Blair, the International Quartet for the Middle East’s first envoy, has admitted that the West’s decision to boycott Hamas after it won the 2006 legislative elections was a mistake forced by Israeli pressure – a euphemism for ‘blackmail’.
But, as is the custom of American and European officials, Tony Blair likes to don on the garb of ‘wisdom’ after ‘the destruction of Basra’ [everything has been lost] and years after leaving his public position, when their ‘unexpected wisdom’ has lost its political utility, and has turned into a mere document of interest to historians alone.
There is no doubt that Israel’s blackmail of the West played an important role in shaping the latter’s position towards Hamas, and its three unfair preconditions – which are still in place – for accepting it in the political process and international system. But there are other, more significant reasons, most importantly perhaps, is the general Western stance that is opposed to the Palestinian people’s aspirations to freedom and independence, and its excessive and incomprehensible bias in favor of Israel and its national security calculations.
Just like other international officials, Tony Blair did not have to exert much effort to resist Israeli pressure. For he was already very willing go along with Israel’s demands, and in some cases to go even beyond its demands as well.
I remember that shortly after the legislative elections, I had a conversation with a previous head of the [Jordanian] Royal Court. At the time, he predicted that Hamas’ rule in Gaza would collapse within six months at most. I responded: You do not seem to fully appreciate the significance of an Islamist movement coming to power; and I added that Hamas would remain in power for six years, and not six months. It now seems now that I was too pessimistic about Hamas’ future, for the period in which it has been in power is almost twice as long as I predicted.
I also recall saying: For every door that is shut in Hamas’s face in Amman, Cairo, and Riyadh, ten doors will be opened in Damascus, Tehran, and Beirut’s Southern suburbs [Hezbollah]. And this is exactly what happened in fact, before Hamas began its game of leaping between axes and alliances, moving agilely from one to the other. Meanwhile, Hamas remained in power, while Tony Blair did not. It has been tangibly demonstrated that such wagers were totally misplaced, and that the arrows missed their targets, and the calculations were all wrong.
At the time, we predicted that some Arab and international parties’ optimism that Hamas would soon depart the scene stemmed from the projects to stage coups against the movement and the policies of isolating and besieging it. It was clear that an Arab ‘security club’ sponsored by the U.S. with the participation of [former Fatah security official] Mohammad Dahlan, had done all its ‘homework’ and had decided to lead a systematic process of toppling Hamas, its government, along with the legislative elections’ results.
What was confined to speculation and expectation at the time is has now been confirmed by a series of statements and information from Hamas early one, and from the PA subsequently. These ended all doubts and gave rise to certainty that Dahlan was closely involved in the effort to topple the Hamas government and stage a coup against it.
But Hamas succeeded in ‘having its enemies for lunch before they had it for dinner.’ What happened, happened, and the rest of the story is well-known. Today, however, we are witnessing a somewhat different turn of events. This is linked to what is being cooked up by certain regional and international capitals against the background of the growing talk of Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ on the one hand; and on the other, using Hamas’ crisis in and with the Gaza Strip so as restructure the movement, turn it into an edited version of Fatah; but with one fundamental difference: Hamas still enjoys a level of vitality that Fatah – the backbone of the Palestinian national movement – has lost.
There is no political value to Blair’s statements. But they can be useful in a PR campaign that the Palestinian movement can launch and advance, especially if the inter-Palestinian dialogue proceeds down the right path. For as soon as the Palestinian reconciliation’s ‘horses’ reached Gaza, we began to hear the same tune played by Washington and Tel Aviv regarding the Quartet’s preconditions, to which new tunes have been added regarding ‘disarmament’ and ‘Israel as Jewish state’.
“In fact, we may not have to wait long before some Western official – some former one as well– will play us the same tune, but only after ‘Basra has been destroyed’,” concludes Rintawi.