Hamas named one of its most outspoken and hard-line figures, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, as the new leader of the Islamic movement in the Gaza Strip today following the killing of the group’s founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, on Monday.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi called Israel’s killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin an “outrage” that could lead to further violence.

The United States on Tuesday warned of a heightened threat of attacks against Americans in the Middle East and North Africa after the assassination of the leader of the militant Islamic group Hamas.

Well duh. I mean, what did they expect? Yassin, a nearly blind and deaf quadriplegic cleric in a wheelchair going to a mosque was killed by an American-built-and-funded missle fired from an America-built-and-funded helicopter. The blowback from this will be huge.

Yassin assassination spells five kinds of trouble for the West

It delivers a propaganda coup to al-Qaeda and its global franchisees. It complicates the political survival of key counter-terrorist governments such as those of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It further destabilises Iraq. It irritates relations between a pro-Israel US and a pro-Palestinian Europe.

And it emphatically strips the US of one of its chief claims to be serious about the interests of the Islamic world – any vestige of hope for the Washington-drafted road map to Middle East peace has now been obliterated.

As Egypt’s President, Hosni Mubarak, snapped after cancelling his planned trip to Israel: “What peace process, when the situation is already on fire?”

All Bush had to do was tell Sharon, you kill Yassin, all your aid gets cut. That’s all it would have taken. But instead, the Bushies, with a wink and a nod, let this atrocity occur, uncaring and perhaps unaware of the firestorm it will create.

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