Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Open Letter to Prime Minister Urdugan

Be a peace broker between Palestinians and Israelis

By Lafif Lakhdar (*)

Mr. Urdugan Leader of Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister of Turkey,

You are a rare Muslim leader. You displayed, indeed, a rare quality of being able to quickly shift from the theology of suicidal jihad to modern Politics, with all what that requires in terms of adjusting the means to the sought after objectives, taking into account the specific historical conditions. To this aim, you implemented most of the European Union requirements in terms of Penal Law, you fully recognized the rights of the Kurdish minority, and you adopted the modern institutions and values of rationality and global humanism, at the expense of old values of specificity. And it could never be over-stated how your intellectual flexibility allowed you to adapt to current-day requirements.

This is what encouraged me to send you the present letter, with the hope that your initiative -to be outlined below- may help the more intellectually flexible segment in Hamas leadership and the rest of Arab political Islam to revise their old assumptions and adopt your own pragmatic approach, based on an objective reading of the current balance of power, not the old religious texts.

Dear Prime Minister,

Your recent article published on "Alsharq Alawsat" newspaper, reproduced in French by "Jeune Afrique" Magazine, indicates clearly your willingness to go forward with your historic project to lead Political Islam from Jihad to Politics, and from dogmatism of blind certainty to pragmatism and realism.

It has been some time since I personally advised Hamas to give up its past positions and practice, in favor of pragmatism, the recognition of Israel, and to renounce armed struggle, i.e., all the taboos of current political Arab Islam.

Now that the organization is finding itself trapped in the aftermath of its recent electoral victory, I wished you moved before President Putin did, by inviting Hamas to Ankara to convince it to give up jihad for politics. And I still believe you can do better by going personally to Gaza with a Turkish Peace Initiative to address all concerned parties, particularly, Hamas, Fatah and Israel.

First, your agenda should be to convince Hamas to give up its Charter which calls for the liberation of every grain of sand of the whole of Palestine and its intention to turn it after liberation to an Islamic trust ("Wakf") for all Muslims worldwide.

More than nine years ago, I called upon Hamas to accept all the international obligations of the Palestinian authority, to integrate its "Al-qassam Brigades" and all other militias into the Palestinian liberation army, and to give up on the creation of a Shariaa-compliant society, which it already started to implement in Gaza by burning or closing down bars, but to no avail.

Second, you need to convince Fath to participate in a government of national unity with Hamas, as the latter "gives up on the positions and practices of the past." In this respect, the first move should be to implement the first part of the road map, i.e., to disarm the militias and to destroy the infrastructure of terror. This will obviously pave the way to the discussion with Israel on the second phase, i.e., the evacuation of the occupied territories.

Third, you need to convince Israel that thanks to your initiative, the Palestinians have become a credible peace partner, well entitled to sign an internationally guaranteed and monitored peace agreement.
Obviously, the mere participation to negotiations does not ensure good results. For this reason, there is a need for Israel's commitment -to you as well as to the Quartet- to free Palestinian prisoners and stop the economic blockade, cessation of payments to the Palestinian authority, targeting of wanted Palestinians, including the head of "Al Qassam Brigades," seizure of land under the pretense of historic or security considerations... These measures will open Palestinians' appetite for a peaceful settlement. In contrast, the failure to do so ends up weakening Palestinian moderates in favor of jihadist forces, including Al Qaeda, which is trying hard nowadays to use the card of the liberation of Palestine to better disseminate its message of jihad theology in Muslims' conscience.

Dear Prime Minister Urdugan,

I personally believe that your worthy initiative may well succeed, since the Hamas's psychological complex is mainly due to the refusal of the world to deal with it, in addition of being on the US and European list of terror organizations. As a result,
its moderate wing may well find it a good deal to give up jihad in exchange for international recognition.

Your initiative will give your Party and your country a regional and world prominence, and you will personally enter history as a major peacemaker in the Arab/Israeli conflict.
(*) The original version of the article was published in major Arab sites. Abu Khawla translated the article into English (contact: Abuk1010@hotmail.com)


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