[Viewpoint]Politics of international powerThe situation in Palestine these days clearly shows the stark reality of international politics. On June 14, the Hamas government, which came into power through democratic elections, collapsed. Mahmoud Abbas, the opposition Fatah leader and president of Palestine, declared the cabinet dissolved and announced the early implementation of general elections.
The next day, a new interim cabinet was announced and the Fatah faction seized power. This was nothing but a coup d’etat from the top. As Fatah and Hamas, the two competing forces in Palestine, are engaged in a civil war, Palestine is being divided into the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, and the West Bank of the Jordan River, ruled by Fatah.
The collapse of the autonomous parliament and administration, led by Hamas, who had won the election, could have been foreseen early last year. Israel froze the transfer of tax revenues amounting to $55 million per month that were supposed to be given to the government. Subsequently, the international community including the United States and the European Union, discontinued its support for the government. This caused the Hamas government to go financially bankrupt and eventually die. Because the unpaid government officials and security guards loyal to Fatah led the insurgency, the situation developed into a civil war.
Israel and the United States contend that Hamas is a terrorist group. They did not acknowledge the ruling force even though it had gained power through democratic elections. But the real reason seems to be that Hamas did not give up its resistance to Israel’s occupation. Their message is not to resist Israel, which has stayed with the Palestinian occupation policy and disregarded the resolutions of the UN Security Council made in 1967 and 1973.
The United States, which is occupying Iraq, has treated resistance in Iraq as “terrorism.” But causing the downfall of the Hamas government in Palestine can bring about even greater political repercussions. This means the United States has completely given up the “Greater Middle East Initiative” that it pushed after the Iraq war began. To find justification of the Iraq war in the fact that “it ended a dictatorship,” the United States has taken this initiative as the basis of its Middle East policy. But the country has boldly shifted its powerful foreign policy to focus on the security of Israel, its blood ally.
International society also keeps silent about the Palestinian situation. Because the United States officially supports President Abbas and declared it would resume aid when the Hamas government collapsed, the international community, including the European Union, followed suit.
This also goes for Arab and Middle East countries, which called themselves “brethren countries.” Except for Iran, which is in confrontation with the United States, almost all Arab governments are turning away from the Palestinian situation. Egypt even moved its embassy from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, the base of Fatah, as soon as the Hamas administration collapsed. That meant it was indirectly announcing its support for Fatah. Neither brotherly love between Arab countries nor justice can keep the United States from doing what it wants.
Just before starting the Iraq War, the U.S. President George W. Bush promised “to achieve peace in the Middle East after getting rid of Saddam Hussein’s regime.” But at present, no one thinks that the Israel-Palestine dispute will be resolved during Bush’s term in office. Bush argued that the appearance of the Hamas government, “a terrorist force,” delayed the establishment of peace in Palestine. The argument implies that he will not recognize any government whose values are different from those of the United States. For that reason, the chances of achieving peace in the Middle East in the near future are getting slimmer.
The power game in the Middle East region also affects our reality. The immediate concern is its effect on oil prices, but our geographic location among the super powers is also an issue because of our distress over the North Korean problem.
In the international community, a good cause, a commitment to justice, and observances of promises are meaningless in cold reality. This is why we need to realize the reality calmly, without relying on emotions. The same is true in the Middle East or in East Asia.
*The writer is the Cairo correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Seo Jung-min