Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Interview: The U.S. campaign to topple the Palestinian government

Below is a portion of an interview with Alistair Crooke, who has discovered information about U.S. plans to get rid of the democratically elected Palestinian government. Link to whole article:

"Mr Crooke spent many years contributing to mediation efforts to resolve Ireland, South Africa, Namibia, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Columbia and has a long-range of experience in coordinating negotiation to release hostages for the EU.

"The British Government has offered him the honor of the CMG in 2003.

"Alastair, hello.

"You and your colleague Mark Perry have uncovered a secret document that was put forward by Elliot Abrams, which includes a plan to force a coup on Hamas after it won elections. To start off with, who is Elliot Abrams?

Alastair Crooke: Elliot Abrams is the official responsible for policy in the Palestinian-Israeli context and in the Middle East. He is the desk officer on the National Security Council in the United States. He is a very influential man. He was formerly involved in other policy areas, in the Iran-Contra affair and then came back as the National Security Advisor responsible for the Middle East.

In brief, what are the details of this plan?

Well, you talk about uncovering a secret document. And I’m not sure it is that secret and I think the main gist of it has been fairly evident since the elections. The aim of it is effectively to remove Hamas who won the elections in January, from power, as soon as possible in order to replace them with another government that will comply with the preconditions set out by the International Quartet and by Israel.

Who are the parties that have participated in this plan?

I think it was originally designed by US officials but also it is a plan that has been discussed clearly with partners in the region, I imagine they would be Egypt, Jordan and others, as well as with Fatah directly.

Have some Palestinians participated in this plan, or provided some information to implement it?

I think, from the outset, it has been clear that the objective is not so much in this case to try and persuade Hamas to meet certain criteria or preconditions. As one American official put it to us directly, these were not objectives that they wanted Hamas to reach; in fact these objectives were set so that they would not be reached. I think the purpose of this is very clear — not to help Hamas recognise Israel or renounce violence, but to provide objectives that they knew Hamas would be unable to reach.

Does that mean Hamas acknowledging Israel would put them in a crisis or problem?

I do not think that when the policy was conceived that they believed that Hamas could or would recognise Israel. Certainly, the idea that Hamas would recognise Israel, renounce violence and would recognise all previous agreements, was a bridge too far — was beyond Hamas’ ability to do this while retaining the support of their constituency. And I think this was well understood from the time of the elections. It was not that they are hoping for Hamas to come forward and be able to recognise Israel. Indeed the same official who said to us earlier said equally, “If America or the Europeans were really serious about Hamas recognising Israel there would be talks now,” people trying to find the language of recognition that would allow that to happen. And that clearly hasn’t happened at all. They have been told very clearly, “You have to recognise Israel in absolute terms — the right and justness of Israel to exist”. Clearly Hamas is not capable to do that. And I think it would also probably be a mistake for Hamas to do that in the circumstances where Palestinian rights and needs for a state remain undefined by the international community and Quartet at this time.

Such a plan can be summarised as a plan to create a civil war between Hamas and Fatah. This needs some money, which parties have been financed for carrying this out?

Originally, the plan was formulated in terms of a “Finding”, i.e. a presidential instruction to the CIA. Sometime ago the CIA made it clear that they were unhappy with a plan that might involve providing weapons and training to one faction in Palestine. It was not too long ago that the CIA decided it did not want to go ahead with this plan. I think they had concerns about Congress, concerns about past events that were similar and had caused political difficulties for the Agency. So they insisted that the plan be made more public and it be moved from them. It was then moved to the State Department under the MEPI programme [Middle East Partnership Initiative] which was designed principally to build democracy in the Middle East and so it is now lying within the State Dept. Although it is not solely within the purview of the State Dept., it’s of course under the heading of Condoleezza Rice, but members from Dick Cheney’s office, from the NSC, from the CIA, all participate in the meetings of this committee that decides on the expenditure of money.

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