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Hadi Awang – deeply flawed envoy with deeply flawed strategy

Image: Malaysiakini.com

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The Pas president’s belligerence won’t help the Palestinian cause, Phlip Rodrigues writes.

Hadi Awang will be busy as he gets down to work as Malaysia’s “special envoy to the Middle East” with ministerial status. He is fluent in Arabic, and he can presumably use his linguistic skill to great advantage in his bid to help the Palestinians.

The Pas president is also a religious scholar who can use his religious knowledge to advance the cause of his political Islam, which advocates a bigoted view that only Islam can rule in a Muslim-majority country.

But, despite his special status, he is ill-suited to play the role of an envoy seeking to highlight the plight of the Palestinians, because this intractable problem is tied to the larger complicated politics of the Middle East.

For decades, all types of proposals have been mooted and thrashed out, but none has taken firm root in this ancient, historical soil. Peacemakers have come and gone, yet peace continues to elude the region.

And here comes Hadi, the latest envoy in a long line of failed peacemakers. What is his mission? What is his vision? Has he come prepared with a doctrine guaranteed to give this volatile part of the region a permanent peace? It appears he has no comprehensive plan in his dossier.

Instead, Hadi appears to have adopted a belligerent strategy after Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin selected him for this ministerial portfolio.

In the Middle East, the long-time enemy is Israel and Hadi’s position on the Jewish state is well known. His stand is antagonistic and virulent. As far as he is concerned, the state of Israel does not exist. “It is haram to accept the existence of a haram nation (Israel),” he reportedly said in a 2012 blog posting. In his one-track mind, only one country has the right to exist – and that is Palestine. He does not believe in a two-state solution.

Based on his intransigent stand, how can Hadi help the Palestinian cause when the biggest player in the Middle East exists as a state? Is he going to ally himself with organisations or Palestinian political leaders sworn to destroy the state of Israel?

The Pas orator cannot always use religion to make a point about the illegality of the state of Israel. After all, the fight for Palestinian independence and justice is not wholly religious. It is also political and affects Christian Palestinians as well.

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Neither can Hadi lament that the state was created through a combination of Western deceit and colonial imperialism, and, therefore, has no earthly reason to exist. Although Malaysia does not recognise Israel, the reality remains that the state does exist today. If Hadi wants to champion the Palestinian cause, he cannot leave the Israelis out of the loop.

Given his hostile approach, Hadi is not likely to sit down with Western leaders, especially from the US, to hammer out a fair deal for the Palestinians. He appears to only want to talk to fellow Muslim leaders who are like-minded in their visceral hatred of Israel. But would Hadi be willing to hop over to Shia-majority Iran, an arch-foe of Israel, in his mission of Muslim solidarity to add pressure on Israel?

Sure, Hadi has other friendly organisations to look up for ideas on how best the Muslim world can pressure the Jewish state and build an impregnable Palestinian state. But his hardline stance will not help him in his mission to drum up support for the Palestinians.

A deeply flawed envoy appointed by a deeply flawed government, Hadi cannot solve the ancient, biblical animosity in the Middle East with a deeply flawed strategy.

The Pas leader must come up with a bolder, visionary plan that will encompass all major players in the Middle East to help promote a durable peace for all and ensure all can live in harmony with God and their fellow human beings.

But the Middle East is a stage too big, too complex, too intricate for Hadi to come up with any workable roadmap that can lead to lasting hope for the Palestinians. He is not the man for the job, which requires diplomatic tact, secular thinking, sound judgement, cool temper and, above all, a willingness to talk to your enemy.

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Hadi fails on all counts.

Phlip Rodrigues, a former journalist, is a keen observer of local events

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