The Middle East: What Next?

From the New York Review of Books:

160px-Israel-Palestine_flags On the eve of the war in Gaza, Robert Malley and Hussein Agha wrote “How Not to Make Peace in the Middle East” [NYR, January 15], a critical review of US policies in the region during the Clinton and Bush years, and a call for a new approach. On January 24, a few days after the end of the conflict, Malley spoke to Hugh Eakin about its consequences. Following are excerpts of the interview, which is available in full at

Hugh Eakin: In Gaza, does Hamas retain the ability to govern?

Robert Malley: All the reporting we've been getting, both during and after the war, is that, for all the massive destruction and the large number of victims, Hamas's authority has not been eroded. They have reasserted it, sometimes ruthlessly, since the end of the war. They are back, policing the streets. Of course, they don't have the same means they had in terms of police stations, and basic infrastructure of government. But in terms of asserting authority, there is really no political alternative today in Gaza that could challenge Hamas. And so if the objective of the war was to weaken Hamas's grip on Gaza, that failed.

H.E.: Should the US have contact with Hamas?

R.M.: I've never advocated direct engagement with Hamas, because we know the political realities here. My argument is different. What I say is that we have to start from a factual realization that the policies of the last two years have not only failed to achieve their objectives. They often produced the precise opposite of what we sought to promote.

More here.