LIANE HANSEN, host:
We turn now to Shibley Telhami. He’s the Answar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland.
Welcome back, Shibley.
Professor SHIBLEY TELHAMI: My pleasure.
HANSEN: As we reported a few minutes ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today issued a decree that outlaws the armed groups of the Islamic militant group Hamas and said, its members would be prosecuted. What does this tell you about the possibility of an eventual (unintelligible) between Fatah and Hamas?
Prof. TELHAMI: In a short term it’s hard to see, not only this declaration but really the formation of a Hamas government. And the likely support that it’s going to get from the international community means that he’s just on a, you know, they’ve decided to separate. And I think these laws decree about outlawing the militant factions of Hamas, I think, is going to be consequential because, clearly, Hamas isn’t going to take that lightly and it is likely to lead to some confrontation, the West Bank particularly.
HANSEN: Abbas sworn in his new 13-member cabinet today. What do you conclude from the makeup of that cabinet?
Prof. TELHAMI: Well, you know, when you look at it, I mean, it’s interesting that they try to distance it a little bit from Fatah. I mean, even the prime minister, Salam Fayyad, run an independent while he was obviously close to Fatah. But in the end, Hamas isn’t going to accept this. They haven’t accepted it. They can’t possibly accept it. This is just a creation of an authority that is going to be legitimate in the eyes of the United States in particular and the international community – the quartet – that includes Europe and the U.N. and Russia. And it’s just going to open up the way aid to have Hamas and the West Bank to console their disposition.
[The protests constitute] one of the most serious crises Iran has faced in the past 25 years... We now see that Iranians are willing to take profound risks to challenge the regime directly in a way we have not seen in years.