Arab talks focus on Palestinians

Ministers meet in Abu Dhabi in attempt to bring Fatah and Hamas together.

    Meshaal has called for a new Palestinian
    organisation to replace the PLO [AFP]

    Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the Palestinian West Bank, said that the ministers in Abu Dhabi are "declaring officially that unwelcome foreign intervention, as they called it, in Arab and Palestinian affairs should be brought to an end.

    "This intervention, in reference to Iran, no doubt, is playing a part in dividing Arabs and certainly entrenching the Palestinian division."

    Arab influences

    Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said the talks in Abu Dhabi show that the Arab landscape is being "reconfigured".

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    "There are outside influences, whether they be American, European, Turkish or Iranian, which are adding to the pressure on the Arab world," he said on Tuesday.

    "There are those who support accommodation with Israel and the United States and those who support resisting Israeli occupation and American influence in the region."

    The Abu Dhabi talks come amid continuing differences between Hamas and Fatah, with the Palestinian parties as far away from a national unity government as ever.

    Meshaal said earlier this week that the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which is designated the sole legitimate voice of the Palestinian people, is obsolete and should be replaced.

    But Abbas, whose Fatah movement has the backing of the US and Israel, has said he will not talk with any group that fails to recognise the legitimacy of the PLO.

    Hamas support

    Iranian support for Hamas shows how far the Shia state has sought to distance itself from countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Bishara said.

    "Since the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran has felt that it is surrounded by American bases, as well as an American attempt to change its regime," Bishara said.

    "Arab countries hosting American bases have supported regime change in Iran. So Iran lashed back ... it used all the tools possible to spread its influence around the region."

    The fact that groups such as Hamas adhere to Sunni Islam has not prevented Iran from forming an alliegance with them, Bishara said.

    "The Sunni groups that Iran is supporting are so-called Islamic Brotherhood groups that came about in the 1930s. Those groups do not look favourably to Shia Islam as a religious view. Yet Iran supports them, not for religious reasons, but for geo-political reasons."

    "Talk of the Shia crescent is more of an American-Israeli view of things, rather than the reality in the region," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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