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Meshaal: Clever but Unconvincing - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The words that Khaled Meshaal uttered during his press conference in Damascus after the Hamas coup in Gaza took place cannot be interpreted in isolation from comments we’ve heard from Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah on the news. One can only say that though the two men are somewhat clever, they are certainly not convincing.

Meshaal stated that what happened in Gaza was not a coup and that Hamas still considers Mahmoud Abbas the legitimate president of the Palestinian Authority and acknowledges that his powers cover the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. So how should one define the actions of Hamas’s fighters as they rampaged through the office of the Palestinian president, trampled on his pictures and sat in his seat? Furthermore, as he sat in the president’s chair holding the phone to his ear, one Hamas militant said, “Hello Mr. President, from now on you will have to call us.” How should we understand what Hamas described as the “second liberation”, let alone the murder, torture, humiliation and destruction of buildings of the legitimate authority?

Meshaal’s statement was as strange as those of Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, as he said that the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp is a line [that should not be crossed] and that the Lebanese Army is also a line [that should not be crossed]! What is the signification of Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] remaining president after the armed coup that was raised against him?

Meshaal then proceeded to call for a Palestinian dialogue to be sponsored by Arab countries, and this is where confusion, not oddness, sets in. In that case, what was the Mecca Agreement? Trying to be smarter, Meshaal reassured neighboring countries, namely Egypt, that Hamas will not export the coup and that its policy in dealing with each Arab state will be based upon official relations and non-interference in the affairs of others. Meshaal acted as though he was the leader of a state, its army and its aircraft carriers that overlook the Mediterranean. We all know, and the world knows too, that the Palestinian cause needs everybody [on its side], by that we mean Arab states and the support of Western countries. I do not understand how Meshaal wants to establish a Palestinian dialogue supported by Arabs after his men and their supporters abroad spoilt the Mecca Agreement whilst at the same time calling for Arab states not to intervene? I do not understand this democracy and these elections that brought us Ismail Haniyeh, yet at a later stage, Khaled Meshaal emerges giving orders!

Of course, one cannot disregard Meshaal’s flirting with the West as he toyed with the issue of the kidnapped BBC journalist announcing that he demands Hamas leaders to redouble their efforts to ensure the release of the journalist. His words then changed as he spoke about the release of the journalist at any given moment. This simply means that Hamas knows where the journalist is being held or which party had carried out the kidnapping.

Meshaal’s speech may be somewhat smart however it is not convincing in any way and it will only lead the people of Gaza to disaster and increase their suffering. All things considered, the people of Gaza are not living in fortified houses like the one that Meshaal occupies in Damascus and Hamas leaders will only offer them statements that will not protect them from hunger, but rather will increase their isolation.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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