S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Middle East Cliff Notes

(Washington Post map from the earlier Israeli withdrawal period)

Many Americans are confused by the complexity of the politics of the Middle East. We have difficulty in remembering the geography of the region. We mix up the leaders with unpronouncable names in our minds, forgetting who are the "good guys" and who are the "bad guys," and seeing no gradations in between. We cannot distinguish between the myriad of movements and political parties, some that even cross national borders. We resort to stereotypical thinking such as the routine overgeneralization, "all those Muslims over there."
The West's involvement in the current crisis - The United States has routinely supported Israel. For instance, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the visit of Israel's Prime minister Ohlmert earlier in the week, the Bush administration and Israel threw their support behind Palestinian Fatah President Abbas, excluding Hamas. The Mideast Quartet is set to meet next week regarding the current situation, according to Haaretz, who also reports that Tony Blair may become the Quartet's new special envoy to the Middle East.
The following recent event is another good illustration of what prompted today's post. From the summary it is difficult to sort out the "who/what/where/when" of what actually happened. It is from today's Yahoo! News (Full Coverage: Mideast Conflict):
"Israel seizes top Hamas leader"
Israeli troops seized a top Hamas militant in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, Israeli military and Palestinian security sources said.
Links to the Basics - Today's post provides a set of tools that will be useful to unravel confusion by providing a set of basic resource links to which readers can periodically return.
Philosophies that compete -
  • Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) - President of Palestine - governing from the West Bank city of Ramallah.

  • Salam Fayyad - Prime Minister & Finance Minister of Abbas' emergency Palestinian government in the West Bank: more technocrats than Fatah party members.

  • Ehud Olhmert - Prime Minister of Israel

  • Ismael Haniya - ex-Palestinian Prime Minister in recent Unity Government of Abbas

  • Khaled Mashaal - exiled Hamas leader who has lived in Jordan and Syria

  • Hosni Mubarek - Egyptian Prime Minister attempts to mediate between the parties (PA-Fatah, Jordan, Israel)
Reference web sites: Items 1 and 2, compares versions of the same story, "Haniya calls for fresh Hamas-Fattah talks." Item 3 is from the BBC: "Country Profiles:"
  1. - Doha, Qatar

  2. - Israel

  3. BBC.News - "Country profiles - Full profiles provide an instant guide to history, politics and economic background of countries and territories, and background on key institutions."

Past S/SW posts:
  1. "Strong 'Community' - elusive Middle East goal;"

  2. "Then and Now in the Middle East;"

  3. "Page 2 stories about the U.S. and a few of its friends."

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