Thursday, January 16, 2014

A SCAF coup in Gaza?

[Originally posted at NOW]

According to a Reuters exclusive published today, the military dictatorship which ousted the former Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi last July and subsequently drove his Muslim Brotherhood support base underground – jailing journalists and extinguishing over a thousand civilian lives in the process – hopes now to engineer a repeat of the experience in the Gaza Strip.

“Gaza is next,” an anonymous senior security official told the news agency. “We cannot get liberated from the terrorism of the Brotherhood in Egypt without ending it in Gaza.”

The plan, according to various officials cited in the report, is to use opponents – both militant and civilian – of the Brotherhood-affiliated Hamas government in Gaza to ignite a “first spark” of protests, modeled on the ‘Tamarrod’ [‘Rebel’] movement that opposed Morsi in Cairo last summer, in order to provoke a violent crackdown that would ultimately lead to Hamas’ downfall. “Surely, the world will not stand still and allow Hamas to kill Palestinians. Someone will interfere,” as one source explained it.

To that end, a protest has been scheduled in Gaza for 21 March. Of course, how many people will actually show up is anyone’s guess – a previous attempt, last November, to stage a Tamarrod-branded demonstration in the Strip flopped entirely. It’s difficult to see how much influence the Egyptian generals can actually exert through Hamas’ domestic opponents, almost all of whom are either in jail or have been tortured and intimidated into silence.

Indeed the entire scheme seems basically ludicrous, and not just logistically. There’s no doubt the Hamas regime is a brutal theocracy; a coupling of the fundamentalism of Saudi Arabia with the iron fist of Saddam Hussein. And yet, the Egyptian experience of the past six months leaves rather a lot of room to doubt whether the putsch envisaged by Sisi’s gangsters offers the liberal and democratic alternative Gazans hope for.

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