Monday, March 03, 2008

Another "Action Plan": It worked so well in Gaza

The American/ArabModerates plan for the elimination of Hamas, as it was formulated in the so-called "Action Plan" dating from February or March of last year, included not only plans for training and supply for the Fatah security forces, but also plans for World Bank financing for quick-results "development" in Fatah-controlled territory. (Here's my summary, and here's a summary by Conflicts Forum). It was explicitly a carrot-and-stick demonstration project, and the section on "Economy" began as follows:
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas should propose, in consultation with the World Bank and the European Union, a plan that defines specific sectors and projects that are in need of financing, and that will show useful and tangible results on the ground in the space of six to nine months, centering on the alleviation of poverty and unemployment. And since some projects will take more than nine months, there should be a guarantee of adequate results within the nine months. This is so as to guarantee the usefulness of these projects before the elections.
(At that point Fatah and Hamas had not yet had their showdown in Gaza. In fact this US support for Fatah was undoubtedly one of the factors that led to that showdown.* The "six to nine months" time-horizon was based on the expected next round of parliamentary elections in both the West Bank and Gaza).

A similar plan is taking shape in Iraq, where yesterday there was convened a conference of GreenZone officials (including Maliki and the minister for planning and economic cooperation, one Ali Baban)with provincial governors and heads of provincial councils. Unfortunately the source for this, the regime-newspaper AlSabaah, doesn't tell us what provinces were represented. But via excerpts from remarks by Maliki and Baban, we can get an idea of the general plan. Maliki:
"The central government will work to attract international expertise to the provinces to assist them in their development-planning for this year....We will support local governments in all the provinces in their planning and development. Not least because this is the right opportunity for local governments to open up to investment, following improvements in the security situation." [Maliki was] inviting the local governments to overcome their problems at the earliest possible time, in order to get additional allocations from the supplementary budget on which he said work will start the middle of this year. And he also urged local governments in the provinces to start work on other studies and plans for projects other than those they expect to institute this year.
Maliki called this a pioneering conference and an initial step in the direction of overcoming past problems via economic development. The headline point: This year's budget includes an amount for provincial development projects that is 90% bigger than the comparable amount in 2006.

The pattern is the same. At a time when the nation is split (Fatah versus Hamas in the Palestinian case; Supreme Council/Kurdish versus Sadrist and Sunnis in the current case), the proposal is to promote "economic development" under the control of the side currently in the West's favor, in the face of continuing confrontation with the other side. Maliki's references to "international expertise" and "opening to investment" are meaningful enough as an indication of the proposed role of the free-market community.

As if to drive this point home, these remarks are twinned with press conference remarks by Adel Abdul Mahdi (the Supreme Council's IMF/World Bank groupie) in which he denied that there was any politics involved in the veto of the provincial-powers law. He said it was purely a question of constitutionality, and he mentioned in particular the point about central government powers to fire elected provincial governors and heads of provincial councils. Spokesmen for both the Sadrists and the Accord Front (Sunni) have charged that this was done by Mahdi on behalf of the Supreme Council in order to obstruct the process leading to new provincial elections.


*This is an understatement. Vanity Fair published a lengthy article today on its website telling much more of the story behind the Bush administration's promotion of civil war between Fatah and Hamas, and it puts the above-mentioned "Action Plan" in the context of that overall story (The "Action Plan" of early 2007 appears in the section headed "Plan B" on pages 5 and 6 of the web version of the story). The story is very aptly called "Gaza Bombshell" because it nails these events in great detail to the Bush administration. The only point that is overlooked is the "plan" included an economic development component (not that it went anywhere, but it was part of the plan).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for further illumination. I should
have thanked you at MOA since you were
indeed the main source for those who
don't read the Arabic press.
Hannah K. O'Luthon

10:17 PM  
Blogger badger said...

yr welcome

3:54 AM  

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