Little Green Footballs

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Buying democracy one party at a time

Here's news that will confuse every 'lizard' at LGF. How can you fight terrorism and pay for Yasser Arafat's former party to remain in power in the Palestinian Authority. Now it's understandable that both the US and Israel want to limit Hamas in the forthcoming elections. But how does a right-wing chickenhawk reconcile fighting Hamas by funding Fatah? They can't. It seems it's ok when Iraqis have democratic elections, but when it comes to the Palestinians the US Administration has to load the dice.

The Bush administration is spending foreign aid money to increase the popularity of the Palestinian Authority on the eve of crucial elections in which the governing party faces a serious challenge from the radical Islamic group Hamas.

The approximately $2 million program is being led by a division of the U.S. Agency for International Development. But no U.S. government logos appear with the projects or events being undertaken as part of the campaign, which bears no evidence of U.S. involvement and does not fall within the definitions of traditional development work.

U.S. officials say their low profile is meant to ensure that the Palestinian Authority receives public credit for a collection of small, popular projects and events to be unveiled before Palestinians select their first parliament in a decade. Internal documents outlining the program describe the effort as "a temporary paradigm shift" in the way the aid agency operates. The plan was designed with the help of a former U.S. Army Special Forces officer who worked in postwar Afghanistan on democracy-building projects.

U.S. and Palestinian officials say they fear the election, scheduled for Wednesday, will result in a large Hamas presence in the 132-seat legislature. Hamas, formally known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, is at war with Israel and is classified by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. But its reputation for competence and accountability in providing social services has made it a stiff rival of the secular Fatah movement, which runs the Palestinian Authority and has long been the largest party in the Palestinian territories.

The plan's $2 million budget, although a tiny fraction of USAID's work here, is likely more than what any Palestinian party will have spent by election day. A media consultant for Hamas said the organization would likely spend less than $1 million on its campaign.


adultmalebluegrouse said...

It seems every time Palestinians get some form of organisation going somebody kicks the legs out from under them and opposes it tooth and nail every step of the way.

How much more do Palestinians need to give before the world says 'enough is enough. We're going to help you this time'?

Oolon Colluphid said...

When Israel pushes them into the Mediterranean, the West will throw them life preservers...maybe.

I hate to be cynical, but the West has been ignoring all the travesties the Palestinians have suffered, so I see no reason that this will change in the future.