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October 1, 2011

Is Mahmoud Abbas the Palestinian Mandela?

IsAbbasMandelaIs Mahmoud Abbas the Nelson Mandela of the Palestinians? The skilful negotiator and diplomat. The leader who is not entirely opposed to the existence of the �enemy� but is bent on achieving self rule for the oppressed. The leader who does not entirely disband his military wing but is confident of the use of non-violent negotiated means to attain his peoples� aspirations. The leader who the �enemy� is confortable with even though he is captive to their powerful establishment.

Are there similarities between Nelson Mandela and Mahmoud Abbas and their unique approach to the struggle of their people? The situation in Palestine is completely different to the situation in Apartheid South Africa and both situations cannot be compared. South Africa was a situation were two identities struggled over control of resources that is clearly understood to belong to the oppressed majority. But the resource also was significantly altered in a positive way by the ruling minority. It was not a collective claim on a resource to which each wanted exclusive rights of ownership. Not just exclusive right but also a God and or Allah mandated exclusive right of ownership. So the situation gets complicated. (what can the Palestinians learn from the South Africa experience? Leave your comments

In the ancient empire building era wars, intrigues, palace coups and violent change was the accepted method of initiating and sustaining a struggle to a possible triumph. The winner takes all and the defeated is willingly subservient or is eliminated or subjugated by force. Today many countries possess enough ammunition to destroy large parts of the earth in one strike. So if an unrestrained war occurs we will all be dead meat in a few hours. This is the age of alliances. There is the UN, G20 the US and allies, BRICS, AU, EU etc. This is also an Information age. No group can be successful in its struggles against any adversary if its actions alienates or threatens people generally. This is why terrorism is still a stupid form of engagement. The PLO was bound to continued failure as long as they carried on with the methods of Yasser Arafat. For a time Israel and its allies branded them as terrorists and won the sympathy of major influential nations including the US and Britain. Abbas� diplomatic moves has now put a spin on all that or at least is heading that way. (Was Arafat good for the Palestinians? Leave your comments

Is the UN Palestinian bid sustainable? Abbas has mentioned in an interview with Raghida Dergham, a columnist for the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, and a  contributing correspondent to the Global Viewpoint Network that the UN bid was a well thought out and �well calculated endeavour�. That fact is evident as the bid at the UN was submitted at a time Lebanon is holding the presidency of the UN security council. So this matter may probably get to a vote sooner that anticipated. If Abbas sustains the momentum, it can be expected that he will begin to win �allies� to his side. This is already evident as many Africans nations (notably Nigeria) begin to support the bid. In a non-violent struggle the Africans are the best in the world. Starting with the successes of the American civil rights to African independence struggles and the more recent South African experiences. Africans would readily identify with the Palestinian course. That leaves Abbas and the Palestinians a date with the UN veto powers; US. But as he wins allies to the Palestinian course Israel will begin to look increasingly alienated. Some EU member states (with Germany at the front) are slightly softening up, as well, towards a Palestinian state of some sort. A Vatican style UN recognition may be a deal clincher for the Palestinians. If the Palestinian authority under Abbas� leadership will unilaterally contain violence against Israel by Hamas and Fatah factions and at the same time manage a peaceful but animated demand for a Palestinian state and add a high level diplomatic engagement with UN security council members then it is going to be increasingly likely that Israel will come under pressure. It is clear from the speech by Abbas at the UN that he expects an �Arab spring� in Palestine: a mass movement of Palestinians backed by the increasingly vocal and democratic Arab brotherhood across the world to demand UN recognition in a more or less non-violent manner. What form Arab support for Abbas would take is still a guesswork. Popular boycott of US interests especially in Egypt is an initial possibility. (Do you support Abbas� methods? Leave your comment)

History will judge Abbas on the success of his latest move. Naturally with his widely known moderate approach he was bound to loose support at home as the US peace process continued to stall. The UN move is as much the only way for him to continue to sustain his control as President and maintain some control over the militant factions. If he fails to win the needed support from the international community and if the US plan continues to fail Abbas will loose credibility among Palestinians. Already he has acted like a typical Arab leader in renewing his term of office as Palestinian leader twice since the death of Arafat.

The chances of the UN voting to give Palestinians a state is slim with the US backing off the possibility with a threat to use its veto. Whatever happens Abbas target could be to re-establish a strong negotiating position against Israel as the PLO tries to stop continued development of settlements in contested territories. This is likely within reach of the PLO with Abbas UN move. And this could represent a new front in the struggle by Palestinians against Israel and its allies.

Do you think Mahmoud Abbas would be remembered as the Palestinian Nelson Mandela? Leave your thoughts below

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