Wednesday, November 28

Did the Annapolis meeting accomplish anything? The Blue-Eyed Genie to the rescue.

The Washington Post's David Ignatius believes something was accomplished, and I think you can read into his analysis how Condoleezza Rice and President Bush are interpreting results of the Annapolis meeting.

Reuters provides a handy checklist on the key demands by each side, and how these fared in the agreement between Olmert and Abbas.

Steven Erlanger at The New York Times, which often reflects the CIA view of things, penned the most unintentionally ironic analysis out of the 30 or so I plowed through last night:
The Middle East peace conference here on Tuesday was officially about ending the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. But there was an unspoken goal just below the surface: stopping the rising regional influence of Iran and Islamic radicalism.

That is why, despite enormous skepticism about the ability of the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a final peace treaty, there is enormous relief among the many Sunni Arab countries in attendance that the United States has re-engaged in what they see as the larger and more important battle for Muslim hearts and minds.

“The Arabs have come here not because they love the Jews or even the Palestinians,” said an adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They came because they need a strategic alliance with the United States against Iran.” [...]

Hovering over Annapolis are deep anxieties over the challenge from a resurgent Shiite and non-Arab Iran, with its nuclear program and its successful allies and proxies in southern Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. Those Arab nations fear that the tide of history is moving away from them, and that they are losing their own youth to religious militancy.
So. After several decades of doing everything they could to promote religious extremism, bigotry and militancy, the Middle East's Arab leaders now find themselves quite alarmed with the results.

But never fear, the Blue-Eyed Genie is here. That's what the previous Saudi ruler called the Americans, who magically popped from a lamp to chase Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and finally off the face of the earth.

At the bottom of all the discussion about what happened in Annapolis, the words not spoken keep coming to my mind: US troop deployment.

It's all very well for David Ignatius to say from behind the safety of his desk in Washington, DC that Hamas and Iran will just have to suck eggs, if they don't like the negotiations to arise from Annapolis. But the reality is that from their stronghold in Gaza, Hamas is lobbing, on average, one rocket every three hours into Israel, round the clock. And if Ignatius thinks that the UN's blue helmuts will be able to stand up to Hamas, they will run as they ran from Hezbollah in Lebanon.

So that leaves -- let me use my special binoculars and scan the Four Quarters for a moment -- why I believe that leaves the United States of America to figure out how Abbas's weak government can defang Hamas and the other militant groups sworn to destroy Israel.

I think President Bush is serious about bringing a Palestinian state into existence, but the only way that's going to happen is if the Palestinians acknowledge that they long ago forfeited the ability to bargain in good faith. It's no longer their call; it's Iran's call. And the only way Iran will back off is through force of arms.

I also think the Palestinians need to recognize that the Palestine state they envision, if it's to come into existence, will be run by international organizations and a coalition of Western governments, and backed by a US-led military force. If Palestinians are not willing to accept that kind of country, they can continue to wait around for Israel to disappear.

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