World View: Palestinian Factions ‘Unity’ Talks in Crisis, Near Collapse


This morning’s key headlines from

  • Palestinian factions ‘unity’ talks in crisis, near collapse
  • ISIS and Yemen force yet another realignment of the Mideast

Palestinian factions ‘unity’ talks in crisis, near collapse

Top officials of the Palestinian 'unity government' as of June 2, 2014 (AFP)
Top officials of the Palestinian ‘unity government’ as of June 2, 2014 (AFP)

A five-day meeting in Gaza between the two major Palestinian factions ended in crisis after just one day on Wednesday, once again bringing into question whether there can ever be a Palestinian “unity government.”

The two-state solution to the Mideast crisis that everyone talks about is usually described as a State of Palestine existing side-by-side with a State of Israel in peace and harmony.

As I wrote in May 2003 in “Mideast Roadmap – Will it bring peace?”, referring to President George Bush’s proposed peace plan, no peace plan can work because Generational Dynamics predicts that Arabs and Jews would be refighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

It is no surprise that, once again, unity talks between the two major Palestinian factions that are a prerequisite to a State of Palestine are collapsing.

The Palestinian Authority (PA/Fatah) used to govern both Palestinian territories, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. But after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, leading to a bitter war between the two factions, it has been pretty clear that a successful peace treaty between Hamas and Fatah has been even less like likely than a peace treaty between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

On April 23 of last year, the two major Palestinian factions signed a “Palestinian unity agreement,” as a prerequisite to forming a State of Palestine. The agreement provided for a series of steps to unify the two factions into a common government.

The unity agreement never really had a chance, but whatever chance it had was destroyed by the summer war between Israel and Hamas. The war was a disaster and humiliation for Hamas, which launched thousands of missiles at Israel without a single one ever drawing blood, thanks to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. In the end, Egypt, the PA and Israel imposed a cease-fire on Hamas, which met not a single one of Hamas’s demands. There were supposed to be follow-up talks to negotiate terms for ending the blockade of Gaza being imposed by both Israel and Egypt, but those talks never started.

This last week, a ministerial delegation from the PA in the West Bank visited Hamas in the Gaza Strip, so that the two groups could negotiate plans for how the unity government was going to pay the salaries of the public employees in Gaza.

There are two sides to the story: Hamas claims that the PA delegation went to their hotel rooms and refused to leave. The PA claims that the delegation went to their hotel rooms and were prevented from leaving by Hamas. Either way, they did not leave their hotel rooms, and the meeting ended in bitter discord within one day, making it appear very likely that the entire unity government concept is near collapse. AFP and Xinhua and Times of Israel

ISIS and Yemen force yet another realignment of the Mideast

Not only did the Gaza war really end the Hamas/Fatah unity government, it split the entire Mideast into two large factions. In a major realignment, Israel plus Egypt plus the Palestinian Authority plus Saudi Arabia were allied, versus Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey. In addition, Iran has been supplying money and heavy weapons to Hamas.

However, since the end of the Gaza war, two major events have shaken the Mideast and is forcing the old realignment to be replaced by a new realignment. The two events are:

  • The rise of Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Syria and Iraq, to the point where many of the other Mideast states feel threatened.
  • The Yemen war, which is pitting the Iran-backed Shia Houthi militias versus the Saudi Arabian-led coalition supporting the “moderate” Sunni tribes in Yemen. At the same time, Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS have been taking advantage of the chaos to gain territory.

In this sectarian environment, a new realignment has been occurring. Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud is acting as a mediator to restore Saudi ties with Qatar and Turkey, and also to restore ties between Turkey and Egypt.

In fact, a rather startling non-event that occurred on Tuesday is being taken as a sign of renewed friendship between Egypt and Turkey.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a big supporter Egypt’s former president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government, the only democratically elected government in Egypt’s history. Erdogan broke off relations with Egypt after Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi engineered the coup in July 2013 that ousted Morsi. Since then, Morsi has been kept in jail, and Erdogan has repeatedly stated his solidarity with Morsi, and demanded that he be freed.

On Tuesday, Morsi was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on charges arising from the killing of protesters.

The startling non-event that we referred to above is that Erdogan has not said a word. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry did issue a statement saying, “The verdict against former President Morsi … aggravate[s] concerns about the future of democracy in Egypt.” But we have not heard a peep from Erdogan himself.

This is being perceived as an abandonment of Morsi engineered by Saudi King Salman. According to one analyst, “The fact that he [Erdogan] did not say a single word the day Morsi received 20 years [imprisonment]” showed that Erdogan has succumbed to the wishes of his only allies left in the region, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Today’s Zaman (Istanbul)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Gaza, West Bank, Hamas, Fatah, Palestinian Authority, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Egypt, Israel, Qatar, Turkey, Iran, Yemen, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi
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