Sunday, May 30, 2010

Obama still reaching out to Hamas

In a recent interview with the Guardian UK, Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal revaled that the Obama administration has been reaching out to Hamas - albeit in a surreptitious and stealthy manner.
The United States is sending a succession of envoys to engage with Hamas but lacks the bravery to talk to the Islamist movement openly, its leader, Khaled Meshal, said in an interview with the Guardian.

Meshal praised President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia for meeting him in Damascus and the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, for hosting the discussion 10 days ago. He told Medvedev that the US was also talking to him. "I thanked him for that meeting and told him the Americans contact us, but are not brave enough to do so openly," said Meshal.
However, this is nothing new. Last year, Osama Hamdan, Hamas' top leader in Lebanon, told Time Magazine that there had been unofficial talks between Hamas and Barack Obama's Middle East special envoy, George Mitchell.

Similarly, the Arab weekly, Al-Ahram, confirmed that a meeting in Geneva between two senior Hamas officials and former undersecretary of state Thomas R. Pickering, in 2009, was coordinated and promoted by the US State Department, despite the Obama administration's claims to the contrary.

Likewise, in November of 2008, Hamas spokesman Ahmed Yousef said that the Hamas leadership had been in regular contact with the Obama team [over a period of several months].

"We were in contact with a number of Obama's aides through the Internet, and later met with some of them in Gaza," Ahmed Yousef [a Political advisor to Hamas leader Ismail Haniya] was quoted as saying, "but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as that may have had a negative effect on his election campaign and be used by Republican candidate John McCain."

During the presidential campaign, Robert Malley - at the time, Obama’s Middle East policy adviser - disclosed that he had held meetings with Hamas, which prompted Obama to [supposedly] sever all links with him. However, the divorce didn't last too long, for shortly after that firing, it was reported that Obama had sent Robert Malley to Egypt and Syria to outline his policies on the Middle East.

And, Last year, while Sen. John Kerry was visiting the Gaza Strip, a UN official handed him a letter from Hamas to deliver to President Obama. A spokesman for Sen. Kerry told Fox News that "the Democratic senator was not aware that the letter was from Hamas when he accepted it from the UN official." However, the Filastin daily reported at the time that the American delegation that visited Gaza brought with it a letter from President Obama to Hamas, and that the Hamas movement had authorized one of its ministers in Gaza to receive the letter and to respond. [Whether this account is true or not, I do not know].

Here's an excerpt from the Filastin daily's article translated by Google [Bear in mind, Google's translation, like all web based translations, makes the text a bit incoherent, however, the gist of the article is quite clear]:

The article is entitled: "Exchange of letters between the Department for Obama and Hamas, Is it a New Policy in the US?"
This comes in the context of the modern so-called "diplomatic exchange of letters", which was heading to visit a U.S. Senate delegation to the Gaza Strip, which was the first visit of its kind in the Gaza Strip, since the control of the Hamas in Gaza.

The State Department official said, on Friday, Senator John Kerry, who recently visited Gaza, received a letter from the "Hamas" addressed to U.S. President Barack Obama, and denied "Hamas" the news.

The private sources of "Palestine", yesterday, [said that] Obama sent a letter to the "Hamas" movement across the American delegation.
The Obama administration had reportedly been reaching out to Hezbollah too:

In June of 2009, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General, Sheikh Naim Qassem said that US officials close to the Obama administration had reached out to Hezbollah and had sought to initiate a dialog with the terrorist organization.

"Several US officials at different levels and more or less close to the administration have asked to speak with [us], but we have refused," Qassem said. "It is useless to have any dialog with the Americans since they regard us as terrorists."

The Washington Times revealed just a few days prior to that report that the Obama administration had "sent a letter to [Iran's] supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomenei, calling for an improvement in relations," despite the fact that, until this very day, Iran is training Taliban militants in Afghanistan and providing them with weaponry that is being used against US troops.

On May 18, Reuters reported as follows:
John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, met with Lebanese leaders during a recent visit.

"Hezbollah is a very interesting organization," Brennan told a Washington conference, citing its evolution from "purely a terrorist organization" to a militia to an organization that now has members within the parliament and the cabinet.
During a press conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington last year, John Brennan offered similar words of praise for Hezbollah:

"Hezbollah started out as purely a terrorist organization back in the early ’80s and has evolved significantly over time,' he said. "And now it has members of parliament, in the cabinet; there are lawyers, doctors, others who are part of the Hezbollah organization."

Is it any wonder then that the Obama administration has dropped the words "war on terror" from its lexicon?

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