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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The song remains the same


Ok, this post is sure to make me look like a "traitor Zionist loving infidel dog" to the majority of Arab or middleeastern viewers. But i figure, hey, they probably think that of me anyway, why should i keep my mouth shut to keep them happy?

Not to mention, it's not like anything i am gonna write here isn't true- and they know it- anyway! Today, we are gonna talk a little bit about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, since the writer of this blog comes from the middle-east and you can never really evade that subject for long before it catches up to you. But don't worry, i will not venture into a history lesson today. There will be the time and place for that. This will strictly be current events.

*******End of PSA*******
It is not a secret to anyone that the middle-east peace process has been frozen for quite some time now, with the "Roadmap" not really utilized at all by any of the parties due in part to the fact that Yasser Arafat was so corrupt and in love with power that he let his own people suffer for the past 3 years rather then resign and have someone with some kind of credibility to negotiate with Sharon. I always wondered why that was until i found out after his death that this piece of shit actually had stolen all the Palestinian government funds and had them stashed in Switzerland, under the care of his incredibly younger and mostly reviled wife Soha, who now refuses to give back that money to the Palestinian people, even though it's really theirs.
I was extremely glad when Arafat died cause in my life I have never hated an Arab leader like I hated this bastard. The reasons for hating him are numerous : from him sabotaging the peace process, to him waging a civil war against King Hussein ( who let him and the Palestinians in his country as guests) in 1970, to most recently him supporting Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in the early 1990's. But the number one reason I really hated him was due to his reaction to the Egyptian President Sadat's assassination. That bastard, upon hearing the news, started dancing and shooting gunshots in the air in celebration, cause the "Traitor" got killed.
You can imagine how much i wanted to puke when the government agreed to have his funeral in Egypt when he died. I was fuming! But that was the only Funeral that Soha could attend for him, cause she knew if she went with the body to Ramallah the PA would have ate her alive and most importantly taken back the money. And we couldn't have that now could we? Anyway....
Arafat's death, however, opened up the door for the revival of the middle-east peace process, with the possibility of another Palestinian leader rising and re-starting the negotiations with the Israelis all over again. And in typical Arab fashion, former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was chosen to run unopposed as his successor. People started talking again with a little hope that things might get better. Abbas will be able to negotiate with Sharon. Sharon and Bush no longer have an excuse to oppress and kill the Palestinian people..blah blah blah!
Well, i am sad to say that it really doesn't look that promising, nor does it look like there will be any difference between Abbas and Arafat in terms of cracking down on Palestinian terrorists. In an interview with AP, Abbas said he would not crack down on "militants," but said the gunmen are ready "to live within the society" if they are granted peace and security. "To remain wanted here and there, this is something no one could accept." Oh, and the sad thing is, that's not the worst thing he said... there is more: Referring to terrorists on Israel's most wanted list, Abbas pledged, "When we see them, when we meet them, and when they welcome us, we owe them. This debt always is to protect them from assassination, to protect them from killing, and all these things they are subject to by the Israelis." And if that is not enough to squash all your hopes and dreams for this really old stupid conflict to be resolved anytime soon, not to mention to add insult to injury, Abbas decided to top it all by attacking-yes you heard me, attacking-Sharon for his plan to withdraw from the Gaza strip: Abbas said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank in 2005 is "unacceptable," and he demanded a resumption of peace talks based on the internationally backed "road map" peace plan. Oy! Some people say that this is just politics. That Abbas is only saying those things to get himself elected with some "Street cred", since, u know, he has no charisma to speak of. But for me that sounds like a cop-out, cause if he is pandering to the militants now, how the hell do we expect him to take the necessary measures to keep them in check and /or crackdown on them when they pull another terrorist attack or suicide bombing? I mean, as the article wonders " what does it say about the state of Palestinian society when a candidate for the head of its government needs to pledge support for terrorism?". The man is pandering to the extremists and he didn't even get in office yet. You don't think he will continue pandering in order to get re-elected or (possibly) not get assassinated? On the other hand, Sharon's plan to give back the Palestinians some of their land back, well, isn't exactly making him popular with the extremists in his own party or country. The climate in Israel currently eerily echoes the climate right before Rabin got assassinated. I would be surprised if there wasn't an Israeli attempt on Sharon's life by the end of this year. Sharon also knows this, but that doesn't seem to bother or dissuade him much. He is going ahead with with his plan anyway, cause that's what leaders are supposed to do, you know, to do what's right no matter what it may cost them. You know, sometimes i wish we had someone like that running the middle-east governments. Maybe we wouldn't still be in the miserable shape we are in these days. Maybe...


At 1/02/2005 08:50:00 AM, Blogger Louise said...

WOW! Best blog yet, sandmonkey. Lots of stuff I hadn't heard about. I'm not quite as pessimistic as you are though, but then I don't live where you live and I don't have access to the news you are getting. BUT....IMHO, it all hangs on what happens in Iraq. That once great buttress of Palestinian terror is no longer the cash cow it once was for the PLO. If democracy emerges, just like an earthquake, everything else in the region has to realign.

Good morning by the way. Aunty Martha and I both slept well. (I knew you were going to ask.)

At 1/02/2005 08:55:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...


I can understand why Palestinians don't like the line on the separation wall -- 'cause it's cutting some of their territory -- but I do NOT understand why they object to the wall itself. My God, these two groups will most likely never get along. I say put up that wall as soon as possible.

If the Palestinians had a workable economy they wouldn't have to work for the Israelis in the first place.

I may be way off on this issue. What do you think?


At 1/02/2005 09:04:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...


I have encountered other Arab commentators who have been as honest as you have. Not a lot, but some. Over at the English-language version of Dar Al Hayat I occasionally find good analysis. But Dar Al Hayat is a very mixed bag, which is okay, I guess.

Do you know of any other English-language websites where we can find commentary on the Middle East by people who live there?

Any help would be appreciated.

Oh, BTW, I have been banned from Iraq Elections Blog and I told the owner that I'm going to send Sandmonkey to mess him up but good. Check my blog for the details. I'm only asking for an entry-level Gambino hit. Nothing special.


At 1/02/2005 09:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that one middle eastern government has someone like that governing...his name is Iyad Allawi.

At 1/02/2005 10:44:00 AM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...


The palestenians do not have a workable economy because the palestinians with money all over the world don't give a damn about their former country. They never invest in it, never donate for it and would never go back to it unless they were living in a refugee camp.

As for middleeastern sources, i usually stick to the middle east times. It has gotten worse lately, i dunno why, but it's still the least partisan one out there.

as for the deal with the gambino hit, i've left u a comment asking u to e-mail me. something shouldn;t be discussed in front of everyone. I have read ur post, but i still need to get some details.

At 1/02/2005 01:41:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Thanks for the info. I'll check out Middle East Times right now and see what's up.

About the Palestinians, it is certainly strange that billions probably have been pumped in over the years but the situation inside stays the same. The corruption must be draining off the funds coming in at an amazing rate. I would like to see some investigative reporters follow THAT money trail. Follow the money, indeed.


At 1/02/2005 07:33:00 PM, Blogger Tina said...

Sharon knows that he could be assassinated, but he is an old man, and he loves his country and his people. He will do everything he can for them whether they appreciate it or not.

I don't think Abbas is strong enough to lead his people to freedom. But surely there must be someone there who can.

At 1/05/2005 11:29:00 PM, Blogger Twosret said...

Who can describe Arafat better than Robert Malley. Sandmonkey I don't think so.

The Arafat Enigma

By Robert Malley
Sunday, November 7, 2004; Page B01

My final meeting with Yasser Arafat took place barely a few weeks ago, in the rubble of his headquarters, over a frugal and flavorless dinner of soup and vegetables. He was outfitted in his trademark military garb, a pile of documents awaiting his signature, aides and colleagues standing by for his attention. The scene was vintage Arafat: the image of armed resistance (when Israel could effortlessly have struck him at moment's notice); the illusion of orderly decision-making (when chaos had long replaced governance); and above all, the reality of personal power. Among his visitors that evening were several of his associates, some of whom had only recently challenged the Palestinian leader. That night, they were doing the talking, Arafat feigning to listen. It was clear who was subordinate and who was boss.

For American policymakers, Arafat's ability to exercise this kind of power over several decades and despite serial defeats was a cause of constant bafflement and a source of repeated misjudgments. They thought he would be assessed based on how well he governed and what he achieved. On both counts they found him wanting and expected Palestinians to follow suit. Palestinians did not -- not out of blindness to his failings, which they experienced more acutely than most, but rather out of a sense that Arafat literally embodied the nation. In the eyes of countless Palestinians, he had taken a dispersed, stateless people, given them dignity and a name, put them on the map, evaded recurring attempts at Arab subjugation and both built and preserved a national movement. For that, they were prepared to forgive in abundance and in perpetuity. As one Palestinian told me, "his people will always flock to him because he did not sell out -- which compensates for the fact that he did not deliver."

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Even as Arafat lay dying in France last week, his portrait hung over an empty chair in a meeting of the Fatah movement leadership -- just as his absence will hang over those seeking to fill his place.

Arafat performed not so much through leadership as through representation, yet another object of U.S. puzzlement. He did not seek to impose decisions, govern through force or subdue rivals via bloodshed. He was the creation more than the creator of Palestinian politics, the expression of an ethereal national consensus, the most fluent reader of Palestinian possibilities and limitations. His personification of the Palestinian political center of gravity was his political currency, which is why he resisted calls to crack down on the violent acts of Hamas or Islamic Jihad or compel order, and it's why, even as he drew close to his last day, he feared Israel's withdrawal from Gaza might give rise to a competing power basis. The flip side was that chaotic pluralism and managed turmoil were his instruments of choice. They gave him maximum maneuvering space, which he considered vital to either maintaining his personal position or achieving Palestinian objectives -- two goals that, alas, he barely and rarely distinguished.

The Palestinian leader never had a grand strategy. His life was the stuff of intuition and short-term political expediency. Hence his tortured relationship to peace and violence. Before most of his colleagues, Arafat believed in a peaceful, two-state solution; unlike some of them, he also believed that violence was needed to reach that end. In his universe, regardless of formal pledges, there was no contradiction. Diplomacy and force formed part of a single, coherent continuum. Assessing long-term costs was foreign to his repertoire; if violence suited current needs, he would do little or nothing to oppose it.

Together, these traits shaped his infuriating negotiating schemes and maddening inability to make decisions. But these were ingredients that early on allowed him and the national movement to endure. Once learned, they were hard to forget. These traits followed him to his last hide-out, the battered Muqata to which he was confined for three years. There, he remained faithful to his guiding motto: Stand firm and sit still. In every Israeli or U.S. move, he discerned attempts to weaken him and divide the Palestinian nation. Again, in his mind national and personal interest blurred. If he found himself holed up in Ramallah with events accelerating in Gaza, things would happen without him, which meant against him, which meant to the detriment of the cause. If he could do nothing more than obstruct, that is what he would do. And he would, as he proved to me that last evening together, relish every moment of it.

How will the movement built by Arafat for Arafat survive without Arafat? Even before the Palestinian leader left his compound, the glue that held all together had begun to dissolve. Managed chaos was becoming anarchic havoc, with a profusion of new centers of power -- families, clans, armed militias -- nominally loyal to Arafat, actually beholden to no one. His death will leave a gaping hole that he spent a lifetime making sure would not -- could not -- be filled. There are potential heirs, but for the most part their legitimacy, unlike his, is derivative, incomplete and dependent on him. Arafat retained personal, organizational, historic and democratic credentials; others did not. Without him, they are all weakened, and the pluralism Arafat encouraged to bolster his own power will undercut the power of any who dares succeed him.

It won't be easy for Palestinians to shift from one mode of political organization and loyalty to another, amidst a sense of unprecedented loss, continued conflict and worsening economic plight. Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qureia are emerging as successors -- perhaps the only heirs with institutional status within the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the historical pedigree of having spent decades at Arafat's side. But with time, different groups likely will assert themselves: Hamas to challenge the secular leadership, one offshoot of Fatah to confront the other, and the younger generation to challenge the older. Much will depend on the Palestinians' ability to forge a collective leadership that incorporates Hamas. And much will depend on whether the United States can muster the political wisdom to shy away from Palestinian succession battles and the political courage to put forward a fair and viable Israeli-Palestinian deal.

In the end, Arafat had the symbolic value and governing skills of a political icon -- which meant a lot and very little simultaneously. Arafat liked to think of himself as the father of the nation. The new leaders need to establish credibility and maintain a degree of unity lest that nation end up little more than a hapless orphan.

Author's e-mail:


Robert Malley is the director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the International Crisis Group. He was a special assistant to President Bill Clinton for Arab-Israeli affairs.


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