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US Coup Backfires

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Editor's Note:

The mainstream media knew about this story, but failed to 
report. Why? Is there a conspiracy of silence? 

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                  Video Clip Of The Week

              Bush Policy Leads to Slaughter

Here we see how the policy of the Bush administration has 
led to unnecessary civilian deaths. Why doesn't the press 
report this? 

Click to View: Bush Policy Leads to Slaughter
   
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US Coup Backfires, But Most Media Outlets Unwilling to 
Investigate, Cover Story 
by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

CAIRO - A recent article in Vanity Fair magazine "exposing" 
a U.S.-planned coup attempt against Palestinian resistance 
movement Hamas last year has ignited a storm of debate 
about Washington's Middle East policies. Yet for more than 
nine months, details of the plot were reported in the 
independent Arabic press — and elsewhere — leading some 
observers to ask: Where was the mainstream media? 

"From the very beginning, Hamas has publicly insisted that 
what happened in Gaza last year came in reaction to plans 
being hatched against it," Tarek Abd al-Gaber, former news 
correspondent for Egyptian state television covering Israel 
and the Palestinian territories, told IPS. 

Hamas has been widely blamed in much of the mainstream 
media for carrying out a "violent coup" against the 
Palestinian Authority (PA) in the Gaza Strip last summer. 
After six days of heavy fighting, Hamas wrested control 
of the territory from the government of PA President 
Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the U.S.-backed Fatah movement, 
in mid-June. 

Hamas fighters quickly seized all official institutions 
and symbols of governance in the Gaza Strip, including the 
presidential residence in Gaza city. 

Declaring a state of emergency from the Fatah-ruled West 
Bank, Abbas announced the dissolution of the previous 
national unity government, led by Hamas-affiliated Prime 
Minister Ismael Haniyeh. Hamas leaders in Gaza, however, 
refused to recognise the declaration, and have remained 
in control of the territory. 

Most western capitals, led by Washington, quickly condemned 
the takeover, placing blame for the dangerous turn of 
events squarely on Hamas. The refrain was taken up by much 
of the western media, which consistently portrayed the 
dispute as one between "extremist" Hamas in the Gaza Strip 
and "moderate" Fatah in the West Bank.

Many Arab capitals, too, denounced Hamas's seizure of the 
volatile territory. The day after the upset, Egyptian 
President Hosni Mubarak was quoted in the state press as 
describing what happened as "the overthrow of Palestinian 
legitimacy."

"What happened in the Gaza Strip was nothing less than a 
military coup d'etat," Mohamed Basyouni, former Egyptian 
ambassador to Israel and current head of the Shura (upper 
parliamentary) Council's committee for Arab affairs, told 
IPS at the time. "It was totally illegitimate." 

Yet in its April issue, the U.S. leisure magazine Vanity 
Fair makes a startling claim: that Hamas's takeover of 
the territory was prompted by a secret U.S. plan aimed at 
extirpating the Islamist group's leadership in Gaza.

In an article entitled 'The Gaza Bombshell', the magazine 
purports to "lay bare a covert initiative" approved by the 
White House and implemented by the U.S. State Department 
"to provoke a Palestinian civil war." 

Relying on confidential documents and former administration 
officials, author David Rose writes that after Hamas's 
unexpected victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative 
elections, the U.S. administration drew up a plan to arm 
Fatah cadres with the aim of forcefully removing Hamas 
from power in Gaza. Under the terms of the arrangement, 
Rose writes, Fatah received arms and financing through a 
handful of Washington's Arab allies, including Egypt and 
Jordan. 

According to sources cited in the article, the plan was to 
be jointly coordinated by U.S. Lieutenant-General Keith 
Dayton and long-time Fatah strongman Mohamed Dahlan. 

But the conspiracy was stillborn. After a Jordanian 
newspaper leaked details of the plot, Hamas pre-emptively 
seized control of Gaza on Jun. 14 and arrested much of 
Fatah's leadership throughout the territory. 

Instead of driving the Islamist group from power, Vanity 
Fair writes, "U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently 
provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza." 

White House and State Department officials have strenuously 
denied the article's claims. Nevertheless, the Gaza 
"bombshell" has received wide coverage in the western news 
media, with several commentators comparing the magazine's 
"revelations" to the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, 
which also involved the covert — and illegal — supply of 
arms to the Middle East. 

Yet according to many local observers, the existence of 
the so-called "Dayton Plan" has been fairly well known 
since the upset in Gaza more than nine months ago. 

"Hamas has consistently and publicly stated that what 
happened in June came in reaction to the Dayton Plan, 
which aimed at the group's destruction," said Ibrahim 
Eissa, editor-in-chief of independent daily al-Dustour, 
which published Hamas's allegations last summer. 

"But the group's claims received little coverage in the 
mainstream Arab media — even (Arabic language news channel) 
al-Jazeera didn't give the issue much attention," Eissa 
told IPS. "The plot allegations were only covered in a 
handful of independent newspapers and on websites 
sympathetic to Hamas." 

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Abd al-Gaber agreed that Egyptian state media wholly 
neglected to convey Hamas's point of view regarding the 
reasons for the Gaza seizure. 

"The official press took the U.S. line and simply blamed 
Hamas for everything," he said. "The White House insisted 
on calling Hamas's actions a 'coup' regardless of the 
circumstances, and official media — in the west and in 
the Arab world — repeated this mantra." 

One notable exception to this was the Egyptian English-
language state broadsheet al-Ahram Weekly. In its Jun. 21 
edition, only one week after the Gaza upset, the newspaper 
quoted Hamas leader Yehia Moussa at length about the failed 
plot. 

"[U.S.-backed Fatah fighters] were planning to carry out a 
bloody coup against Hamas involving the murder of hundreds 
of people, including Hamas's political and religious 
leaders," Moussa was quoted as saying. "But we managed to 
thwart their plans before they could carry them out."

Nor did IPS miss the story. In August of last year, in an 
article devoted to Fatah's declining popularity ('Bush 
Could Have Given Fatah That Kiss of Death'), IPS explicitly 
cited the Dayton Plan as a chief reason for Fatah's 
deteriorating image on the Arab Street. 

"Fatah's image has also been tarnished by revelations that 
emerged in the immediate wake of the Gaza upset regarding 
a failed plan to extirpate the Hamas leadership," IPS 
reported from Cairo on Aug. 21. "According to Hamas 
officials, the 'Dayton Plan' — named after U.S. General 
Keith Dayton — had been scheduled to take place on 
Jul. 13." 

Citing Hamas spokesmen, the article noted that that the 
operation "was to be led by Fatah-affiliated strongman 
Mohamed Dahlan with logistical support from the U.S. 
Central Intelligence Agency." 

The article went on to quote Essam al-Arian, a leading 
member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement — which 
controls a fifth of the Egyptian parliament and is 
ideologically close to Hamas — as saying: "The so-called 
Dayton Plan aimed to manipulate the Palestinians into 
waging war against each other."

So why, then — if details of the U.S. plan were so readily 
accessible for the last nine months — are Vanity Fair's 
disclosures being treated by the mainstream media as new 
information? 

Mohamed Mansour, professor of media at Cairo University, 
says the belated reporting proves the overwhelming bias 
against Hamas in much, if not all, of the western media. 

"Western media institutions do everything in their power 
to tarnish the image of the Palestinian quest for state-
hood," Mansour told IPS. "This can only be attributed to 
the Zionist influence on western, particularly American, 
media — a fact that can no longer be debated." 

Although the Vanity Fair article serves to vindicate 
Hamas's Gaza takeover, Mansour went on to question the 
timing of its publication. 

"Why did the media take so long to break the story?" he 
asked. "I suspect the article was only published now to 
further aggravate the rift between Hamas and Fatah and 
divert attention from developments elsewhere." 

According to Eissa, Egypt's official press has yet to 
mention the contentious Vanity Fair report. 

"Even now, the state press hasn't reported on the Vanity 
Fair story," he said, noting that al-Dustour, by contrast, 
had published translated selections from the article in 
the first week of March. 

Eissa added: "Like much of the western media, the official 
Arab press would rather ignore Hamas than publish stories 
that might serve to justify the resistance group's 
actions." 

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