08 January, 2009

Hamas secrets of Barack Obama

The Guardian reports that Barack Obama is going to establish secret backdoor channels of communication with Hamas, in a startling break with previous US leaders' policy of total ostracism of the popular Palestinian Islamist party: Obama camp 'prepared to talk to Hamas'. Obviously, these secret backdoor channels are a bit less secret now that Obama "sources" are reputedly telling the Guardian all about them, but I imagine that any links will be tentative and covert for some time yet - don't expect to see Ismail Haniyeh (the Palestinian Authority's de jure prime minister) or Hamas' exiled leader Khaled Meshal invited to the White House any time soon.

I'm curious as to whether this means that all the right-wingers in the USA and Israel were right to fear the election of Barack Obama. From their perspective, having any kind of non-violent interaction with Hamas represents a terrifying concession to the most sinister of forces. Aside from being an obviously sensible course of action, even tentative US engagement with Hamas may also prove an annoyance to those who predicted that no change whatsoever would ever result from a change in US leadership.


Paul said...

I predicted that Obama would change nothing and yet I'd be delighted if he did!! Certainly not annoyed... I'd be very happy to have been wrong.

Actually I've kind of become more convinced by Obama in recent weeks but I remain cynical.

ian said...

That said, there is a slightly Big Mickey aspect to back door negotiations with Hamas... all chit chat, no substance.

I can't remember, did Obama appoint Dennis Ross to some important position with some impact on Middle East stuff? If so then that, with the appointment of Clinton and even to an extent Mitchell, does not suggest much likelihood of serious progress on the core Israel-Palestine issue.