MOSCOW. (Yevgeny Satanovsky for RIA Novosti.)
Why did the Hamas movement win a landslide victory at the recent election in Palestine? The simple explanation is that the election was democratic. A political religious movement fighting for the liquidation of Israel that created an efficient system of recruiting suicide terrorists was bound to win in the Middle East. The corrupt regime of the late Yasser Arafat was simply a victim on the Islamic theocracy's victorious advance to power.
Hamas's victory spells out the demise of the American policy of spreading democracy in the Middle East as an alternative to the proliferation of politicized Islam. Western political formulas provided a breeding ground for aggressive radicals who are taking control of regional countries in democratic elections. They have defeated generals, leaders of nationalist parties, Marxists and feudal barons, subjugating or liquidating clan chiefs, and forcing out or killing ethnic and religious minorities.
It is no use trying to keep predators on a vegetable diet. It is likewise useless to hope that killers and terrorists will change their ways after they come to power. International statements and actions show that nothing has changed since the Munich appeasement, which brought Hitler to power in a more legitimate way than the means employed by Arafat.
The German National Socialist Party won the election no less democratically than Hamas did. The attempts by European politicians to appease the Fuehrer were as naive and helpless as the signals sent by the quartet of international mediators to the new bosses of Palestine the other day.
Hamas did not stoop to tricks in responding to the world community. It does not intend to recognize Israel and will not stop using terror in its struggle against the Jewish state. Hamas leaders reminded the sponsors that Palestinians accepted American, UN and EU money not as charity but as something that rightfully belongs to them. How can the world expect reasonable behavior or elementary gratitude from people who think that the world owes them?
On the other hand, Hamas's position is perfectly logical in view of what the world has given to Palestinians in the past decades and what it has received in response. It is a miracle that they talk with the West at all.
Hamas is not afraid of Israel, the West, or the termination of financing and dialogue. It has the sympathy of Islamists around the world, from the Egyptian Muslim Brothers to the Lebanese Hezbollah, the militants of Sudan's Darfur and al-Qaida fighters. Hamas also has the support of the Iraqi rebels and the drug barons of Afghanistan, as well as Iran.
If the West denies assistance to Palestine, it will nevertheless thrive on the lavish support of "true believers," because the peace process means nothing to the people who view Tel Aviv as an illegal settlement and Israel as a temporary Zionist entity. Hamas is waging a jihad - religious war - against Israel, a war of extermination. Fanatics who train their children to become "walking bombs" have no respect for international conventions and diplomatic rules. The regional nations consider Hamas's victory as proof that Palestinians were right to wage the uncompromising battle.
The peace process has long turned from a diplomatic parody and a theater of the absurd into a genuine war. It is a strange war where the stronger side loses, the aggressor pretends to be the victim, and the attacked side supplies the adversary with electricity, water, jobs and money, retreating step by step and thus strengthening the adversary's belief in his eventual victory.
Israel has not managed to bring about peace by ceding Jerico, Ramallah, Nablus and Gaza to Arafat's control. It has not succeeded in restoring peace by leaving Lebanon and evacuating Israelis from the Gaza Strip. Instead of securing peace, prosperity and future for their children, Palestinians have become hostages to extremists, first secular and now theocratic.
Anyone who examines the situation soberly can see that diplomats' well-rounded formulas do not conceal the fact that the region is heading for another massacre. How many more Palestinians and Israelis have to die to stop the terrorist war, which international bureaucrats who profit from it present as "the Middle East settlement"?
Hamas has offered a ten-year truce to Israel. It is not long enough for Islamists to create a state that Arafat and his successors refused to build. But it is sufficient time for building up strength, liquidating or subjugating rivals, assuming control of money flows, and turning terrorists into an army. They believe that in this period Americans and their allies will leave the region or will be glad to have any partner there, especially because the situation in Palestine offers new opportunities to Islamic radicals in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. It will be a time of another trial for the regional monarchs and authoritarian leaders, who have spent decades keeping theocracy away from power. This is why the conversion of Palestine into Hamasstan is terminally dangerous to more countries than Israel.
There are many advocates of dialogue with Hamas in Europe, Russia and international organizations and some in the American and Israeli establishments.
The inertia of political processes, the domination of political correctness over realism, national and international corruption, personal and group interests of officials, lobbying for "Islamic globalization," the Iranian factor, the great powers' battle for influence in the region, as well as party rivalry and political illusions will give the Palestinian Islamists a chance they will most certainly use.
This means that news from the Middle East will remain alarming.
Yevgeny Satanovsky is president of the Middle East Institute.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent the opinions of the editorial board.