(collection of photos from passports of individuals suspected in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh)
Taylor Marsh has a great post up that pieces together elements of the Robert Ludlumesque intrigue around the recent assassination in Dubai of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
The story is gripping and sensational — and could lead either to further tragedies on both sides of the Israel-Palestine divide, or to a breakthrough on how to deal with Hamas.
The UAE government, with which the United States is basically closely tying itself on a great number of fronts but most explicitly recently on a nuclear power and technology agreement, has publicly stated that it believes Israel’s Mossad is “99%” behind the assassination and has issued an arrest warrant for Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
Hamas has threatened Israel with revenge.
And UK Foreign Minister David Miliband is “outraged” that forged British passports were used in the plot and promised to get to the bottom of things. I am waiting for the Foreign Minister to blog about his concerns about the case.
But more importantly, Miliband’s government as well as the Irish and French governments have demanded information from various Israel ambassadors and representatives of the Israeli government. All eyes are on Israel for this assassination.
Though the Israeli government has not admitted to the deed, when allies like the Brits and French make diplomatic demands, that is a good market indicator of Israel’s responsibility.
Why this assassination matters so much — whether people believe that Israel’s right to extraterritorial executions is justified as part of national self defense — is that Israel and Hamas had been close to an extraordinary deal on prisoner swaps.
Senior Israel government officials have reported to me that in the wake of Iranian domestic convulstions, Hamas has been trying to diversify its relationships and adjust its posture to potentially join a unity government in Palestine that could negotiate with Israel and various Arab and Western stakeholders in the region.
Ironically, the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh — whose picture will no doubt be added now to a wall of pictured martyrs from the Hamas movement in the headquarters of Khaled Mashal (in fact the wall of martyrs is to my left in the video interview I did above with Khaled Mashal) — may create such international frustration with Israel for disrupting efforts at regional stabilization and negotiations that there may be a real push to now end the international isolation of Hamas.
I don’t believe that the US will be sitting down with Mashal any time soon — but perhaps it is time that we removed the American veto on someone like French national security adviser to Nicolas Sarkozy, Jean-David Levitte, from meeting and discussing terms with Hamas and how paralysis in the region might be broken.
In fact, I am convinced that it is time for the US to suspend the work of its own envoy, George Mitchell, and to subcontract the operation for achieving a workable, two-state solution and regional stabilization plan in the Middle East to Levitte.
— Steve Clemons