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The Controversy Surrounding Carter and Meshaal's Meeting - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Huge controversy surrounds former US president Jimmy Carter’s meeting with Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal. Carter has stated that during his meeting with Hamas’s leader in Damascus; he will strive to convince him to accept a peaceful solution with Israel and Fatah.

It is common knowledge that Saudi Arabia has tried to resolve the Palestinian problem through the Mecca Agreement, but after the utmost faith and the emotional speeches that we saw and heard in Mecca; Hamas, under Khaled Meshaal’s leadership, staged a military coup in Gaza and overthrew the Palestinian Authority (PA). Moreover, Hamas has evaded Egyptian and Yemeni attempts [for reconciliation] while Gaza, under Hamas’s leadership, has transformed into a pressure front [exerting pressure] on Egypt.

Carter’s meeting with Meshaal cannot be described as anything but an [internal] American skirmish; the outcome of which will be fruitless for the region and the Palestinian cause. In fact, it can only exacerbate the crisis in the region. There is nothing to indicate that Hamas, under Khaled Meshaal’s leadership, will commit to a resolution that unites all Palestinian efforts.

Clearly, Jimmy Carter is unable to apprehend that Khaled Meshaal staged a coup on a democratic regime that came to power through elections – and before that had led a more dangerous ‘ideological’ coup in which the movement had declared its rejection of the Oslo Accords – all of which means a return to square one in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Khaled Meshaal’s real problem lies in the fact that he aspires more towards a truce with Israel than he does towards the vision of a Palestinian state. Moreover, he does not strive to put an end to the crisis endured by the people of Gaza inasmuch as he attempts to exert pressure on Egypt with the intention of serving goals that are far removed from the Palestinian cause.

Mr. Khaled Meshaal leads a safe life in Damascus and is more preoccupied with preserving Hamas’s alliance with Iran and Syria than with unifying the Palestinian ranks. His position is the same as that of the rest of the Hamas leadership, which has disappeared fearing that Israel will target it, leaving the residents of Gaza to confront the Israeli aggression. Where is Ismail Haniyeh today?

Carter’s meeting with Khaled Meshaal could harm the Palestinian cause and inter-Palestinian reconciliation more than benefitting it. One should recall House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s meeting with Bashar Assad in Damascus following the Democratic victory in US Congress.

Following that meeting, the entire region was suddenly deflated after Damascus received the wrong message and acted based upon it, along with Iran, in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. New disasters broke out in the entire region after the Syrian-Iranian alliance and their followers, Hezbollah and Hamas, assumed that President Bush had become a lame duck and that they were capable of implementing their agendas.

Today the same thing applies to Meshaal’s meeting with Carter; it will end with an American skirmish that Meshaal will exploit in the media and which will send the wrong signal to Hamas and others – in hope that the advent of the Democrats will benefit Hamas, Syria and Iran.

This signifies the persistence of the internal Palestinian split and gives hope to the states that seek to disrupt the region. It will also grant Israel the opportunity to put pressure on whoever will reach the White House, whether it is the Democrats or Republicans, to take a more severe stance towards the Palestinian cause and thus complicate matters further.

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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