Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Saudis on Hamas and Iran's GCC Invitation

I was actually surprised by the degree to which Saudi Arabia's Prince Faisal blames the West for the breakdown of Palestine's unity government rather than Hamas.

Q: What are your thoughts on the legitimacy of Hamas as a political force in Palestine?

A: In Makkah, Hamas agreed to a cease-fire that would continue as long as peace talks continued. They formed a government of national unity. Unfortunately, the international community did not respect this government, only certain segments of it.

Recognition is not a process of reward. If you are working for peace, you must deal with the elements of peace. Undoubtedly, the government of national unity created by Hamas was an essential element in the process, yet it has been left out in the hinterlands and isolated. These events have created a feeling within Hamas that there was a conspiracy against them.

It was said that the Annapolis conference was designed to give the Arabs political cover to work against Iran. That never made sense because dictatorships don't really need political cover. If they did, they'd sound a lot more like Ahmadinejad or Rafsanjani - which is what their populations would prefer. But if there is political cover to be given out, maybe some went the other direction, allowing the GCC to invite Iran, for the first time, to its annual summit.

DUBAI: Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will attend the annual summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for the first time, which opens in Doha on Monday. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini told Iranian news agency that Ahmadinejad's presence in the meeting would be an important event and added that presence of Ahmadinejad "can help boost cooperation between Iran and the Gulf Arab states" and help promote mutual understanding.

Oh, and the deadlines the Saudis believed the US would impose on Israel. Israel thinks otherwise. Israel probably has a more accurate read on US intentions than the Saudis. Any bright child would probably have a more accurate read on the US than the Saudis.

"An effort will be made to hold accelerated negotiations in the hope that it will be possible to conclude them in 2008," Olmert said, according to a statement. "

However, there is no commitment to a specific timetable regarding these negotiations."

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