Russia to fund Hamas

Well done, Russia!  Oh, how very well done.

Russia has said it will grant the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority urgent financial aid, in opposition to the policy of the EU and the US.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the pledge to authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a telephone call, Moscow said.

Marvellous.  Just as the US and EU, for once agreeing on something, looked as though they were standing firm on not supplying aid to a Hamas government until it recognises the right of Jews to live in the Middle East, Russia throws a lifeline to Islamic terrorists.  Brilliant.

Firstly, a clarification.  The US and EU are right to deny aid to Hamas, and they have every right to.  Contrary to the bleating of idiots like Patrick Seale in the Gulf News that not funding Hamas is equal to blackmail and dismissal of the democratic process, the US and EU have fully recognised that the Palestinians have elected their government of choice and have made no effort to interfere in that choice.  However, electing the government of your choice does not come with a right to have that government’s policies accepted and funded wholesale by anybody outside of the electorate.  If the Middle East is going to adopt democracy as a workable model of government, the people need to understand that democracy entitles you only to be governed by your party of choice for a limited period, and nothing more.  It does not entitle you to foreign aid and endorsement of party politics.  And until Hamas accepts the right of Israel to exist, enlightened liberal democracies should exercise their right to stop funding their activities.

Which brings us on to Russia.  For the last few years, much of Russia’s foreign policy has been a two step process:

1)  See what the US is doing.

2)  Do the opposite.

If this is Russia’s way of gaining friends and influence around the world, it will clearly work.  But it will come at a price, as the USA has found following several decades of propping up dodgy dictatorships and funding terrorists in an effort to contain Communism.  It will eventually come right around and bite Russia on the arse.  But for now, it will win plenty of friends and influence in the Middle East.  Granting aid to Hamas relieves the Arab states of having to dip into their own pockets to fund what could well become a threat to their own positions, but allows them to look on as Israel continues to be attacked.  It will open the door to Russia to supply some juicy arms contracts over the next few years, and it will turn Muslims’ attention away from Russia’s brutal war against the Chechens (they hope).  It also annoys the US and make them look like the bad guys.  All of this at a cost to Russia of a few million dollars, which of course they don’t need anyway, and a few dead Jews on their conscience.  Which has never been a problem before, I think we can all agree.

So what happens now?  A prediction:  the Gulf News will write a gushing article on Russia and how they are supporting the democratic process, and how they are so strong and brave in the face of Israeli pressure.  The US will be denounced loudly.  The UK’s Guardian and Independent will utter not a peep about the irony of having Russia supporting an Islamic terrorist organisation at the same time it is hosting the forthcoming G8 summit, nor will they mention the blindingly opportunistic stance Russia is taking on this issue, and the obvious reasons for it: flogging weapons and other kit to dodgy regimes.  The articles concerned will be highlighting with smug satisfaction the frustration that the US now feels with the Russians, knowing that there’s nothing they can do about it.

And there isn’t much which can be done.  Or maybe Israel should start funding “freedom fighters” in Chechnya and Dagestan, so they can carry out a few more Beslans?  Maybe then Russia will realise the price attached to funding terrorist organisations.

UPDATE

Actually, there is one possibility which I have overlooked.  Maybe Russia is agreeing to fund Hamas in order to give it more elbow room with which to pitch in with the US and EU against Iran.  Perhaps Russia is playing a fairly clever game here, working its way into a position whereby it can pressure Iran without appearing to be anti-Islamic or too pro-American.  Time will tell. 

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12 Responses to Russia to fund Hamas

  1. Anna says:

    Will this help to Hamas come before or after Putin pays Russion pensioners, who cannot even put meal on the table
    with their monthly handouts from the government?

  2. Bruce says:

    This would be the democratically elected Hamas who are therefore perfectly entitled to govern?

  3. Tim Newman says:

    This would be the democratically elected Hamas who are therefore perfectly entitled to govern?

    Yes, for sure. They can govern away until their heart’s content. But they are not entitled to do so with other people’s money, nor are they entitled to have their policies endorsed by anyone other than the electorate.

    But didn’t I already say that?

  4. George Hargraves says:

    Where might the Russians be getting all this money from?

  5. Saphia says:

    Very interesting post…I have enjoyed browsing the Russian-related posts & travelogues here. By the way, I’d be interested in your opinion on the film ‘Syriana’…

  6. Tim Newman says:

    Saphia,

    Glad you enjoy visiting! My review of Syriana is here.

  7. Bruce says:

    True you did – but do you really think the palestinian govt is flush enough to govern it’s people effectively, at the moment?

  8. Tim Newman says:

    but do you really think the palestinian govt is flush enough to govern its people effectively, at the moment?

    No, it’s nowhere even close – largely because it spends most of its time and effort on trying to kill Israelis instead of governing its own people. The very reason the US and EU withdrew their aid was to try to persuade the Palestinian government to changeits priorities, but it seems they weren’t prepared to. Throwing money at them regardless would have not led to better governence on their part; only a huge sea change in attitude will do that.

  9. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Russia: Funding to Hamas

  10. Russia, like France, still sees itself as a major power, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Because it’s too weak to actually act in the world it, like France, tries to prove its weight by diplomatically obstructing any and every move the USA makes on anything. France, China and Russia would block a UN motion declaring that the sky is blue if the USA backed it.

    Why Russia is still given huge amounts of US aid, and treated as a close and valued ally by the US is therefore a mystery. Putin’s backing of pro-russian tyrants in the Ukraine and Belarus, his taking into state ownership of energy supplies to use as a political weapon and his clamping down on internal independent media haven’t cost him anything, so why should he stop?

    He has all the benifits of US support, and all the benefits of anti-US stances on everything. The impotence of Russia is the cause of this attitude, but it’s also why it doesn’t matter in the long run. The Russians aren’t going to intervene on the side of Iran anymore than they did in Iraq. They’re not going to help us, but they’re not going to try to stop us either.

    There’s no point in us continuing to treat it as an ally though. There’s a reason why every independent state, freed from Soviet tyranny, flocked to join NATO and the EU. They don’t trust the Russians and neither should we. Opposition from Russia is a given and should be ignored.

    One last advantage of this is that our enemies will be armed with inferior Russian kit, rather than western arms. The last thing allied air power needs is to face Typhoons rather than the (impressive on paper but in actual fact illmade and generally useless) Mig 29. One reason proper military operations have been so successful is that it’s a lot easier to destroy T72 tanks than Challenger IIs.

    We should make it clear when (if?) new presidential elections take place that a pro-western line will attract aid, and an anti-western line will turn the money taps off. Russian voters want more reform and a better standard of living. We have to give them an incentive to vote for it.

    In other words, treat Russia as we are treating Hamas.

  11. angua says:

    Perhaps Russia is playing a fairly clever game here…

    Sorry, you’ve watched Russian politics over the last 10 years. The likelyhood of them playing a clever game (or even looking more than one step ahead) seems kind of slim.

    Looking at Iran, do you think they would really accept Russia as not being anti-Islamic just because they fund Hamas? This would be the same Russia who is still killing Chechens? And using the big fist in the various -stans? And harassing its own Muslim population?

    I think my question is, do you think that being anti-Israel is automatically translated into being pro-Islamic, regardless of anything else? Or do you see Iranians as being more nuanced than that?

  12. Pip says:

    Hamas would love to govern with funds of its own but most of it is languishing in Israeli bank accounts as they have frozen all Palestinian assets. If you look at the death toll in the area over the last 6 years it is clear who is terrorising who. 1 in 5 Palestinian dead is a child. The cycle continues until someone stops it.

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