Ken Lydell of Occam's Razor looks at the the Hamas victory as a variant on the tradition of clan and tribe competition:
Every Arab country consists of tribes and clans competing with one another to get more than their fair share of everything while enhancing their power and prestige. The special welfare of tribal coalitions trumps the general welfare. [....]
Eurocentric pundits perceive the political conflict amongst Palestinians as one of practical secularists versus idealistic Islamists. In fact, it is a confict between tribal coalitions for privileged access to the public trough and the honor of continuing the forever war against Israel. Behind the scenes are foreign contributors and Hamas has cornered the Saudi and Iranian markets. Furthermore, Hamas will soon have at its disposal funds from the European Union. Those monies will be used to purchase the support of additional clans and tribes in order to consolidate Hamas' power. The remainder will be used to finance the continuing war against Israel with a smidgeon spent on conspicuous public works to maintain the illusion of responsible government.
This strikes me as utterly plausible. Many, many traditional cultures practice politics as a spoils system. When I studied Japanese politics, I found that spoils silently drove politics. Such systems can become very deeply entrenched.
The conclusion Lydell draws is shrewd.
The best way to weaken the Hamas tribal coalition is to starve it of funds and the Bush administration appears to favor this approach. Although this will not fill the pockets of the Fatah tribal coalition it will nonetheless help preserve it thereby setting the stage for a Palestinian civil war. It would not be a war between ideologies but instead a war between factions. It matters not who wins. It matters greatly that Palestinians be sick of war when the struggle is concluded.
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