Hamas has been a strongly maligned actor within the western mainstream media. The concise and well-written “Engaging the World” by Daud Abdullah presents a clear picture of Hamas’ attempts to act as an international state actor while at the same time continuing its role as a liberation movement against Israeli occupation.
It is a very honest work, describing Hamas’ success in presenting a critical pragmatic formulation of its actions for other state actors, at the same time indicating where it has not succeeded, through its own relative political weakness in relation to considerable outside influences.
Above all, it is not a polemical work attacking Israel or highlighting the history of Israel’s transgressions but limits itself strictly to what is indicated in the title. It examines foreign policy, Hamas’ attempts, successful and otherwise, to present its position to other countries.
Yes, it does indicate its obvious position as considering “Israel in Palestine as a manifestation of European colonialism, acknowledging that the Zionist enterprise in Palestine could never have succeeded without western political and military support.”
Abdullah goes on to indicate that Hamas is “not attempting to establish a religious state or theocracy….it is seeking a civil state with an Islamic framework of reference through which the executive can be held accountable to the people.”
Having identified those two large encompassing positions, the book proceeds to examine how Hamas has attempted to be both idealistic and realistic at the same time, a rational actor in its attempts to pursue its relationships with outside political entities.
Much of that is regional as Hamas “sought to avoid involvement in disputes between competing regional alliances” a not easy task when Arab countries tend to have strong internal conflicts and disputes (e.g. Iraq invading Kuwait, Saudi Arabia against Yemen, Qatar et al). Hamas reaches much farther abroad than its neighbors, engaging with the rest of the world.
One position they do not accept – an internal one – is that of the PLO and its armed wing Fatah, considered to have been co-opted through the Oslo process and subsequent manipulation by the western community in its actions as being the enforcement police acting for the Israelis.
The second chapter, “Rejecting the call to Oslo” outlines Hamas initiative to “situate the movement within the framework of international law….to enhance the international legitimacy of the movement…allowing it to reserve the right to accept or reject proposals or resolutions that did not uphold the rights of the Palestinian people.”
One of the more intriguing incidents is presented in chapter 3, “Opportunities from Marj az Zuhur” something I was vaguely familiar with but obviously had not recognized its importance before reading this section.
This history indicates how significant the PLO – Hamas split was, how the Arab League operated with double standards, how for Israel it was “ill conceived and destined to fail,” but for Hamas it was a turning point that “evoked the solidarity of people across religious and political divides.”
2006 and Gaza
A brief examination of “Relations with the USA” leads directly into another highly significant chapter and a major turning point, “The 2006 elections and the trial of democracy”. It was this sequence of events which “highlighted all the posturing and pretense involved in the US portrayal of itself as a champion of democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere.”
Abdullah recognizes that for “failing.to see and avoid the trap that was set for them…both organizations [Hamas and the PLO] are responsible.” However, at the same time, Hamas’ position was strengthened “because its political leaders were seen as competent, open, untarnished by corruption and unwilling to compromise their ideals.” Since then, Israel has militarily attacked the Gaza enclave three times against all standards of humanitarian and war law.
The rest of the record examines Hamas’ relationships with the European Union, the global south, Russia, and China, all a mixture of successes and resistance. It ends with an interesting account of Hamas’ interactions with the government of Syria and other Syrian leaders during the protests and civil war in Syria.
Syria had been one of the strongest supporters of Hamas but the difficult situation in Syria proved too difficult for Hamas to negotiate its way through. It was viewed as “an internal problem” that hopefully “no foreign powers would have an excuse to interfere in their internal affairs.”
Perhaps, as with most historical accounts, current events do not fit well within most people’s perspectives. There are two points, both intersecting with the US and its allies, that fit within this possibly ‘too close for a good view’ perspective.
First is the apparent view that Syria’s problems were internal – yes, they were, but they were also seriously aggravated by US interference along with its regional allies, notably Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and of course Israel. It is noted that “A bloody civil war ensued.” And again, yes it did, but highly influenced, highly interfered with by the just mentioned adversaries to the Assad government.
The second item I have difficulty with is the argument that “Although the right to armed struggle is upheld in UN Resolutions 2955 and 3034 of December 1972, the stronger trend in contemporary relations is for disputes to be resolved peacefully.”
The counterpoint to this is a simple examination of US foreign policy, its use of extremist forces to do much of their work, to use both covert and overt actions to influence and overthrow a wide variety of non-obliging governments, and the current use of economic sanctions to strangle the economy of whatever country they deem offensive to their privileges.
Neither of these two points refutes the overall position of Hamas – it means that perhaps in another few years, these events may take on a different meaning. In the closing, Abdullah acknowledges that internal weaknesses need to be addressed, and “Ultimately, the greatest losses from the rift have accrued neither to Hamas nor Fatah but to the Palestinain national project.”
For the future, Abdullah recognizes that Hamas may have to face “realities on the ground” that may affect their favored policy of non-alignment on the international scene. He recognizes that “Palestine…no longer seems to be a central issue for many regional governments,” while at the same time “Palestine remains one of the great moral and political issues of our time; it unites people everywhere.”
He sees that the “international community moves towards a multipolar world”, an indicator that both my contention about US foreign policy and the need for a political realignment “contributing to the formation of new global alliances,” have actually been recognized and acknowledged.
A Necessary Read
“Engaging the World: The Making of Hamas’s Foreign Policy” deserves to be read by anyone interested in foreign affairs, in particular the Middle East (which admittedly affects most of the world). It should serve as a guide for any academic programs that contend to be about international affairs, foreign policy, or any other formulation of geopolitical interests.
At the same time it is readily accessible to any other interested reader and while some background information on the overall history of the region is helpful, “Engaging the World” can also stand alone as an introduction to events in the Middle East.
– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews to Palestine Chronicles. His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization and economic subjugation of the global community and its commodification by corporate governance and by the American government.
Rwanda Concludes Commemoration Week
Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic and rain, Rwandans have this Tuesday soldiered on and gathered at Rebero Genocide Memorial in the capital Kigali for a ceremony to conclude the week-long activities of the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi claimed more than a million lives.
Rebero Genocide Memorial, is a resting place for 12 politicians and more than 14,400 victims of the Genocide.
Rebero Genocide Memorial is a resting place to politicians who were killed during the genocide either because they were Tutsis or were against the brutal regime and became victims of their political views because they were portrayed to be an impediment to the planned genocide.
Commemoration of the politicians who were killed before and during genocide against the Tutsi began in 2006. This was after a cabinet resolution of 21/06/2006 that designated July 2, 2006 a day to commemorate politicians who are victims of the genocide against the Tutsi and the event would take place at Rebero Genocide Memorial.
In the subsequent years, this event was marked at the end of the memorial week which takes place on April 13th every year.
Politicians Buried at Rebero Genocide Memorial
KAYIRANGA Charles, was member of the Liberal Party (PL) holding a position of the Director of Cabinet in the Ministry of Justice. He was born in 1949 in former Rukondo Commune currently Nyagisozi sector, Nyanza district. He was killed on 7/4/1994.
NDASINGWA Landuald, He was member of Liberal Party (PL) serving as its vice President. He was also minister of local government. He was born in 1947 and was killed on April 7th 1994 on grounds that he was suspected to be an RPF spy (ibyitso).
Maître NIYOYITA Aloys, He was a member of Liberal Party (PL) and was designated to becomethe Minister of Justice in the transitional government. He was born in 1954 in former Nyamutera Commune, Ruhengeri Prefecture. He was killed in April 1994.
KAMEYA André: He was born on May 15, 1946 in the Southern Province, Gisagara District in former Butare Prefecture. He together with his spouse were killed on the order from former Kigali Mayor Col Renzaho Tharcisse and Gen Laurent Munyakazi.Kameya Andre is a cofounder of Liberal Party (PL), also the Managing Director of Rwanda Rushya a bi-monthly newspaper, which opposed the genocidal regime. He was killed in June 1994 at Saint Paul in Kigali City.
RWAYITARE Augustin: He was member of Liberal Party (PL) and a vocal critique of Habyarimana government. He was born on April 20, 1956 in former Rukara Commune currently Kayonza District. He was the head of the Department for IDPs in the Ministry of Labour. He was killed on April 20, 1994.
KABAGENI Vénantie: Former member of Liberal Party (PL) of which he was the first Vice President and was on the list of MPs to represent his party in Parliament. He was born in 1944 in former Kayove Commune, currently Boneza Sector in Rutsiro District. He was killed in Butamwa on April 11, 1994.
RUTAREMARA Jean de la Croix : He was member of Liberal Party (PL). He was born in 1958 in Gishari sector. He was killed on April 9, 1994. Yishwe ku itariki ya 9 Mata 1994.Like his fellow party members he was a devout critique of the brutal regime and the ideology of ‘PL Power’ faction.
NZAMURAMBAHO Frédéric : He was a member and President of the Socialist Democratic Party (PSD). He was born in 1942 in former Rukondo Commune, Gikongoro Prefecture ; currently Nyamagabe District. He was the Minister of Agriculture. PSD was one of the opposition parties critical of the regime in power. It played a crucial role in Arusha Peace Agreement. Together with his family, he was killed on April 7, 1994 by the Presidential Guards.
NGANGO Félicien : He was member of Democratic Socialist Party. He was the Vice President of the Party and a party candidate to represent his party in the Government as per the Arusha Peace Accord. He was killed on April 7, 1994.
MUSHIMIYIMANA Jean Baptiste : He was a member of Socialist Democratic Party. He was born on January 1, 1954 in former Ntongwe Commune currently in Kinazi Sector, Ruhango District. He was killed by the Presidential Guard soldiers on April, 1994.
KAVARUGANDA Joseph : He was born on May 8, 1935 in former Tare Commune, Kigali Ngari prefecture. He was killed by soldiers of the Presidential Guard in April 1994. He was the President of the Constitutional Court. He was member of the Republican Democratic Movement (MDR) political party.
RUCOGOZA Faustin : He was member of MDR political party. He was the Minister of Information during Habyarimana regime. Despite his position as Information minister, in November 1993, he never shied away from expressing his objection to Radio RTLM’s hate speeches and warned it even though it was a pro government protagonists.
He was killed on April 7, 1994. Together with his family members, they were arrested on April 6, 1994 immediately after the shooting of the Presidential plane.
60% of Tanzania’s Civil Servants Are Incompetent
Certain decisions made in the past by Tanzanian government officials are very laughable and shameful but the reason has been discovered by Prof Mussa Assad (pictured above) the Former Controller and Auditor General.
“Most public servants are not good enough or do not meet the required threshold, my only problem is when you get to the point where you see someone doing wrong and you can’t say it is wrong, then you are in the wrong place,” said Prof Assad.
Prof Assad has said there is a need to reboot the public service saying 60 per cent of the current crop lacks the necessary competence to serve as civil servants. He was speaking, April 10, during the launch of a series of public debates organized by the Morogoro Muslim University (MUM).
He said the problem is that people have become cowards; it has reached a point where some people just keep silent even when there is plenty going wrong.
“That’s why I say let’s start afresh with the few who are doing well, that will also a lesson for those who ‘in the future’ will be carefree, they know that their remedy is to set them aside and start anew,” he said.
He made references of certain government decisions which were reached in the past such as selling of government houses in Masaki and the Railway quarters in Gerezani, only for the same government to come back and buy what it sold at Sh6 million at over Sh200 million.
Regarding the Bagamoyo Port project, Professor Assad said there is a need for the Government to provide documentation for the project to make it public so that citizens can read it, look at its pros and cons and comment on whether it is good or bad.
“I cannot say whether the project is good or bad because I have not seen the documents but if the government provides information, we will comment and I am good in that area of analysis,” said Professor Assad.
It can also be recalled that in April 2017, former leader John Magufuli fired over 10,000 civil servants including high ranking officers, for forging and or using other people’s academic certificates to obtain their current positions.
Magufuli discovered this abnormality amid reports claiming the country was losing at least U$10 million a month in salaries and benefits to 19,708 ghost workers.
A government investigation that begun October 2016 found 9,932 people it said had faked their secondary school qualifications, a number equivalent to two percent of the country’s civil service.
“Right from now, those public servants using forged or other people’s certificates are dismissed,” Magufuli said at the time.
U.S. Africa Energy Forum Launched
The Africa Oil & Power and the African Energy Chamber this week announced the launch of the first-ever U.S. Africa Energy Forum (USAEF).
This event aims to create deeper cooperation between the U.S. and Africa on energy policy, to reach alignment on long term sustainability goals, to stimulate greater American investment in the African oil, gas and power sectors, and to engage and reposition the U.S. as the primary partner of choice for African energy developments.
Under the theme “New Horizons for U.S. Africa Energy Investment” the forum will explore diverse foreign investment and export opportunities across the continent, including natural gas as a vital fuel for the energy transition; energy storage and battery minerals; Africa’s place in global energy supply chains; the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area; evolving energy technologies and how they relate to the future role of petroleum resources; and on-and off-grid power developments.
An online seminar and in-person networking event will be held in Washington D.C. on July 12, 2021, building up to the in-person U.S. Africa Energy Forum summit and gala dinner, to be hosted in Houston, Texas, on October 4-5, 2021.
Africa Oil & Power and the African Energy Chamber has invited all U.S.-based companies with an interest in engaging with African industry leaders and project developers to participate in the USAEF Houston summit.
This initiative comes at an important juncture in U.S.-Africa relations. The Biden Administration’s announcements of its intentions to proactively build a stronger U.S.-Africa partnership coincides with the fact that African projects are seeing rising interest from U.S. companies and lending institutions alike.
The USAEF event is thus dedicated to enabling dialogue between its participants that advances these developments.
“Our mission has always been to showcase the resource potential that Africa has to offer while at the same time showing its growing preference for sustainable energy policies and technologies.
Toward that end, we hope it becomes evident that Africa does not just want investment capital: it wants smart capital and an accompanying partnership with the investors,” said James Chester, Senior Director of Africa Oil & Power.
“The U.S. Africa Energy Forum represents the first-of-its-kind opportunity to catalyze U.S. participation in Africa’s energy transformation – via technology, policy support, capital injection and skills development – and turns a new page in the chapter on global energy investment.”
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