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Some view moves of radicalists to mainstream politics as a positive transformation and it is surely to be hoped that organizations involved in decades-long strife in region that are now close to becoming involved in mainstream politics, will ultimately disarm. Yet their popularity might be evidencing real hardship on ground. Aside from what's driving islamist vote, Israel's reaction to a possible Hamas inclusion into PA might not be favorable and it might be unwilling to negotiate with Hamas leaders. But then, this might not turn out to be case. Prime Minister Sharon who is said by some to favor a peace process that is open ended might think he has a better negotiating partner in a Hamas partipated PA.
It is also going to be interesting what is going to be happening with Hizbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah leaders have expressed opposition to disarmament that's as strong as the Palestinian Hamas leaders. So far, this issue, groups' status as terrorist and their unwillingness to recognize Israel as a state has always deterred countries like US to deal with them as mature political entities. This is changing. Word in diplomatic corridors has it that State Department might acquiesce in Hizballah's entry into Lebanese politics if it abandons terrorism and severs its political and operational ties with Syria. This US recognition of Hizballah could serve as a precedent for US acceptance of a political role for Hamas.
So far it looks like every major move that islamist groups make by definition will continue to go accompanied with pledges to hold onto arms. But one ought to bear in mind that often public rhetoric is different than any private action. The leader of Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrullah, recently reiterated that his group will not give up their weapons. In an interview with Reuters he said that his party will keep its weapons and will not give it up, noting that this decision is because of continued Israeli occupation and risks of occupation against his country. He even snubbed UN, saying that its Security Council resolution demanding Hizbullah to hand over its weapons is 'meaningless' and 'of no value'.
Meanwhile, in Iraq Al Qaeda's Jordanian-born leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi also recently publicly rejected a call from new Iraqi president for militants to lay down their arms. Calling new Iraqi leader President Jalal Talabani an agent of US and Jews, rebels said they would continue their strife until Sharia law was established in country and never forgive leader for his "infidelity" and "spilling of blood of Muslims". It is not clear whether statement, posted on a website used by Islamist militants is authentic. It is a smack in face however of Mr Talabani, who has been quite lenient to those Iraqi's who have taken to violence over past few years, saying a peaceful solution should be found with Iraqis who were 'led astray' by terrorism. He even invited them in to participate in democratic process and offered some convicted terrorists an amnesty.
Angelique van Engelen is a freelance writer for www.contentclix.com. She also contributes to a writing ring http://clixyPlays.blogspot.com