Some readers will be surprised to know that Erdogan’s regime-change in Damascus policy has nothing to do with AKP’s moral support for the Syrian Sunni majority. It’s based on greed for the Middle Eastern petro-dollars. Since last year, AKP leaders have received huge investment promises from rich regional American puppet rulers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in return for distancing from Iran, Iraq and Syria. On April 29, 2011, Al-Arabiya News reported that Riyadh had promised to invest $600 billion in Turkey’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors in the next 20 years. Turkish companies are looking forward to grab some contracts from Qatar’s $170 billion investment in infrastructure, stadium and hotel projects ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
However, Turkey’s booming economy has failed to maintain AKP’s earlier popularity among its voters. AKP’s knee-jerk foreign policy toward some of Turkey’s Muslim neighbors is costing the party in a big way. The latest poll shows AKP’s popularity among its committed Islamist voters has dipped to its lowest point. The results of an August Andy-Ar survey shows that only 18.3% of respondents said they favored Ankara’s handling of sectarian violence in the Arab world especially in Syria – while 67.1% Turks disapproved AKP’s Syrian policy. The overall AKP support dropped from 49.2% in July to 46.7% in August.
Damascus and several independent think tanks and political analysts have blamed Turkey for running a proxy war on behalf of US-Israel. Bashar Al-Assad in a television speech had blamed Ankara for bloodshed in Syria and ridiculed Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu for proposing UN-backed buffer zones along Turkish-Syrian border.
American political and military strategists have come to the conclusion that American dominance of Middle East is on a rapid decline – leaving the Zionist regime alone to survive in the heart of an anti-Zionist Muslim world. This was the very reason the US State Department gave birth to the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in 2008. The plan to destabilize the Muslim world was cooked-up during a meeting in New York city by the CIA, Mossad and several Zionist Jewish heads of social networking sites to implement the ‘New Middle East’ project. In July 2012, Gabriel M. Scheinmann, a visiting Fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), admitted that the Zionist entity is in fact the winner of the Arab Spring.
In order to counter Iran’s rise as the regional power , the US pushed Ankara to lead the Arab Sunni Muslim majority against Shia Iran with the help of western poodles like Saudi and Qatar ‘royals’. However, with the election of Dr. Mohamed Morsi as president of Egypt, Erdogan’s dream of becoming the leader of Sunni Arab has gone down the drain. Egypt, with the largest Arab population in the region – has always held a strategic position in the region. Last week, Morsi irked Washington by asserting that the bloody confrontation in Syria cannot be resolved without the active participation of Iran – which has been the views of both Russia and China for a long time.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s opposition party, Republican People’s Party (CHP), is very critical of AKP’s Syrian policy. He recently said that the AKP’s policy on Syria “was short-sighted and has already collapsed”.
Some Turkish analysts believe that if Bashar al-Assad is not removed from power by the pro-Israel rebel groups in the next month or so – the AKP will reverse its policy on Syria in order to shore-up its declining vote bank.
- Growing Public Discontent with Turkish Syria Policy (ipsnews.net)
- Turkey’s Syria Conundrum (nationalinterest.org)
- Why Does Turkey Want Regime Change in Syria? (nationalinterest.org)
The Bahraini Freedom Movement issued a statement Friday in which it described the Russian demand in the Security Council as an “unprecedented development.”
“Russia has asked the UN Security Council to debate the case of Bahrain where a popular revolution has been taking place for the past 18 months. This reflects the new direction of Russian policies in the Middle East following two decades of downward opportunities following the fragmentation of the former Soviet Union. Earlier, the Chinese representative at UNSC had said that its double standards in dealing with the Arab Spring revolutions had damaged its impartiality,” the statement read.
“The internationalization of the Bahraini revolution will be a blow to the Al-khalifa and Al-Saud policies as they attempt to destroy the Bahraini revolution with shear state terrorism. The American and British military and security support of the despotic rulers of Bahrain is causing unease on the international scene especially after the recent flare up of the Syrian situation,” it added.
Turning to the Bahraini revolution, the Movement said that “among the recent deaths by chemical gases is a fetus in his mother’s womb. Atiyya Hassan Jassim Al Nakal of Sitra has confirmed that his wife had suffered a miscarriage following the inhalation by the mother of excessive amounts of chemical gases and tear gas. His family has been devastated. More than fifty citizens have lost their lives as a result of excessive use of chemical gases by the Al-khalifa and Al-Saud forces occupying the country.”
“Another detained human rights activist is Zainab Al Khawja who was arrested last week for protesting at a roundabout. Amnesty International has called for her immediate release. It said: In the past nine months Zainab Al-Khawaja has been arrested and released several times. She has been put on trial several times for “illegal gathering” and “insulting officials.” She is still facing three more trials,” it stated.
“Meanwhile the revolution has gained momentum in recent weeks following intensification by the regime of its barbaric attacks on civilian areas. About thirty demonstrations every day and night in almost all neighborhoods are taking place. The routine has become standard. The youth would gather at a place and would march followed by women procession. Few minutes later they would be attacked by overwhelming forces using chemical gases and tear gas canisters. A fracas would often ensue, and confrontations would continue for hours. While the troops would fire large amounts of lethal gases, shotguns and rubber bullets the youth would try to stop the attackers using petrol bottles to defend their own homes,” it noted.
“It is now clear that no settlement is possible between the people and the ruling family and the only way out is for the Al-khalifa to go,” the statement concluded.
- US backs dictatorial regime in Bahrain to retain hegemony (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The Emirates Crackdown (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Bahrain chemical warfare culprit (english.ruvr.ru)
- Bahrainis’ New Demand: USA Stop Arming Killers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- ‘Bahrain activist crackdown on rise’ – RT (rt.com)
KHARTOUM – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has again dismissed the significance of protests that erupted in different part of the country over the last month describing them as “isolated”.
On Sunday night some hundreds of demonstrators took the streets in areas south of the capital Khartoum to protest a previously unannounced increase in electricity rates that were introduced yesterday which were as high as 150%.
There was no official explanation from the government regarding the rate change.
The move contradicted government assertions made in the past that electricity rates would remain unchanged following the inauguration of the multi-billion dollar Merowe dam in northern Sudan three years ago.
Police and security officers managed to disperse the protests which continued until late into the night in Buri Lamab and and Jebel Awlia areas in Khartoum State.
Abdel-Jalil al-Karoori, a member of the NCP leadership bureau, said that the protests that began in late June are “isolated” and not reflective of the general sentiments among the people.
He stressed that the government is putting significant efforts to contain the economic crisis and accused the opposition of attempting to exploit it politically.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is forecasting that Sudan’s GDP growth will shrink by 7.3% in 2012 following the secession of the oil-rich South a year ago. South Sudan now controls what used to be 75% of the formerly united Sudan’s oil production worth billions of dollars.
The government scrambled to find alternatives in the form of expanding gold exploration which is not expected to make up for the revenue shortfall any time soon. Moreover, Sudanese officials have made little progress in attempts to get financial aid from Arab and friendly nations.
China, a major ally of Sudan, has suspended funding to dozens of projects citing the lack of oil collateral after South Sudan broke away.
In a bid to redeem the state’s ailing finances, the government announced a number of measures including the lifting subsidies on fuel which increased frustration among ordinary Sudanese who are struggling to make ends meet amid rising prices.
Annual inflation hit 37.2% in June this year, double the level in June 2011.
Furthermore, the government partially devalued the currency in a bid to further align it with the black market exchange rate and encourage those with US dollars to sell them in the official market. The move meant that Sudan will pay more for imports considering that much of its needs, including many basic food products come from abroad.
The government has also slashed ministries on the federal and local levels to cut expenses but economists say that the step is largely symbolic and would have a negligible impact on the budget.
Despite widespread anger among Sudanese citizens with the measures, only small protests broke out, which saw the participation of few hundred. Khartoum insists that the demonstrations do not amount to an “Arab Spring” as activists have hoped.
In Khartoum, a senior NCP official further downplayed its significance.
“Of more than 5,000 mosques in Khartoum only two protested [after Friday prayers]. That can give you the size of the whole thing,” NCP’s external relations secretary Ibrahim Ghandour told Reuters.
Ghandour revealed that the government would keep in place some fuel subsidies until the end of 2013 to minimise social pressures.
“I don’t think the government will go and fully lift subsidies to oil. That would be a very unwise political and economic decision,” he said.
The NCP official said the austerity measures would generate savings of 7 billion pounds, enough to close a finance gap of around 6.5 billion pounds, stated by Finance Minister Ali Mahmoud Abdel-Rasool, due to the loss of oil revenues.
“The goodies… of those economic arrangements are expected to start coming out at the end of the year provided that the Bank of Sudan [central bank] was able to support the pound,” Ghandour said.
He acknowledged that the central bank has been unable to stop a slide of the pound against the dollar, despite the partial devaluation.
“Until now they managed [to stabilise] to a degree but now the dollar is coming up in the equivalent [black] market,” the NCP official said.
“The Bank of Sudan [central bank] cannot in my opinion continue to support the pound against the dollar. They need new measures,” Ghandour added.
To stop the slide Ghandour said the central bank should license more foreign currency exchange bureaus to attract more dollars from Sudanese who are using the black market.
“Why don’t we open exchange offices for whoever wishes to sell and buy?” he said. “There are few very exchange offices.”
However, he ruled out a total liberalisation of the exchange rate, saying this would be a “disastrous” move.
- Sudanese poor not part of ‘uprising’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
In April 2011 – Turkish President Abdullah Gul in a New York Times Op-Ed, warned both Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama that the “Arab Revolution is aimed at Israel”. However, later events in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria proved that Abdullah Gul was totally wrong.
Last week, Gabriel M. Scheinmann, a visiting Fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), admitted that the Zionist entity is in fact the winner of the so-called “Arab Spring”.
“The so-called “Arab Spring” has, paradoxically, made Israel stronger as Israel’s enemies have turned on each other. While Arab capitals burn, Jerusalem has calmly and carefully steeled itself against the possible immediate deleterious effects, building fences along its Egyptian and Jordanian borders and accelerating the deployment of its Iron Dome anti-missile system,” wrote Scheinmann. He then added: “Even as it rightly plans for the changes wrought by the “Arab Spring”, Israel should also recognize that as the Middle East convulses, it is more likely to be left alone. As Alawites battle Arab Sunnis and Kurds in Syria, as Kurds target Turks in Turkey, as the Imazighen fight Arabs in Libya, as the Army contends with Islamists in Egypt, and as Sunnis and Christians confront Shiites in Lebanon, people don’t have the time, energy, or resources to fight the Jews in Israel. The more the region tears itself apart, the more Israel floats to the top, unscathed economically, militarily, or diplomatically. While an Islamist ascent is undesirable, the intervening disorder only makes Israel stronger.”
Karen DeYoung, in Gen. Colin Powell’s biography, ‘SOLDIER: The life of Colin Powell’, has quoted Powell twice saying that “the Iraq war was the product of Donald Rumsfeld’s absorption in the “JINSA crowd.” By the way, Dick Cheney was on JINSA’s Board of Advisors before becoming vice president, where he was joined by Ledeen, Feith, Perle, James Woolsey, and John Bolton.
Both AIPAC and JINSA are behind Washington’s regime change in Tehran.” So far the Israel lobby has failed to make its dream come true, as Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival, wrote: “The wars of 2001 and 2003 have fundamentally changed the Middle East to Iran’s advantage.”
Lebanon’s interior minister, retired Maj. Gen. Marwan Charbel in a recent interview with RT has claimed that the Zionist entity is the only country which has benefited from the so-called “Arab Spring”.
The so-called “Arab Spring” is the defacto working of Zionist elements in the United States. The brainchild is within the Israel-Firsters, and by extension the Zionist entity.
- JINSA: Arab Spring disorder makes Israel stronger (thepassionateattachment.com)
- Lebanon: ‘Arab Spring benefits Israel only’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Is JINSA preparing for another Israeli-Egyptian war? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel Lobby Always Believes More Is Better (alethonews.wordpress.com)
In his introduction to “Finding a Balance: U.S. Security Interests and the Arab Awakening,” the recently published fifth volume (.pdf) of The Washington Institute’s counterterrorism lecture series, editor Matthew Levitt writes:
Together, these lectures provide a window into both the struggle against extremism and the challenges and opportunities presented by the Arab Spring during the Obama administration’s third and fourth years in office. From finding new counterterrorism partners to keeping al-Qaeda and other illiberal forces at bay as new regimes take root, Washington and its allies must continue showing the flexibility and creativity that produced the State Department’s CSCC and facilitated the Treasury Department’s spectacular success at using financial tools to support democratic transition in the Middle East (emphasis added). After all, events in the region are still unfolding, and the outcome remains to be seen. Even as Washington and its allies contend with an evolving but still potent terrorist threat—including the rise of homegrown violent extremism—they have much more work to do in aiding the forces of democracy and liberalism in the Middle East. Although al-Qaeda and its affiliates have been remarkably absent from the Arab Spring to date, violent or nonviolent Islamist extremists could still hijack the revolutions orchestrated by liberal Arab youths and turn them to their own purpose. Preventing this will require timely analysis and creative thinking of the kind presented in this volume.
As Daniel L. Glaser, assistant secretary for terrorist financing in the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, remarked in his lecture, “Treasury’s Response to the Arab Spring,” Levitt, the director of WINEP’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and former deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department, “played an integral role in the development of Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.”
Those who still believe that the Arab Spring poses a threat to Israel need to consider this question: Why is the think tank AIPAC built so enthusiastic about the “spectacular success” of the lobby’s Treasury Department creation “at using financial tools to support democratic transition in the Middle East”?
- Lebanon: ‘Arab Spring benefits Israel only’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
In June 2006, both US secretary of state, Conoleeza Rice, and Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, unveiled the notorious anti-Muslim plan (New Middle East) for reshaping the map of the Middle East. The plan called for first creating instability, chaos, and violence within Muslim nation-states (Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Egypt) and then using ‘humanitarian military invasions’ to divide those countries – to make sure they never pose a threat to the Zionist entity.
Lebanon has always been a target of Zionists’ dream of a ‘Eretz Israel’. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, had a vision of creating an Israeli-controlled Maronite Christian state along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and steal water from the Litani River for the newly established Jewish settlements.
“This is the time, he (Ben Gurion) said, to push Lebanon, that is, the Maronites in that country, to proclaim a Christian State…”, wrote Moshe Sharett in his personal Diary in 1954. The tactics, Sharett writes, were Gen. Moshe Dayan’s:
“According to him (Dayan), the only thing that’s necessary is to find an officer, even just a major. We should either win his heart or buy him with money, to make him agree to declare himself the savior of the Maronite population. Then the Israeli army will enter Lebanon, will occupy the necessary territory, and will create a Christian regime which will ally itself with Israel. The territory from the Litani southward will be totally annexed to Israel…”
The so-called ‘Arab Spring’ was cooked-up during a meeting in New York city by the CIA, Mossad and several Zionist Jewish heads of social networking sites to implement the ‘New Middle East’ project.
Lebanon’s interior minister, retired Maj. Gen. Marwan Charbel (a choice of country’s Christian president Gen. Michel Suleiman) in a recent interview with RT has claimed that the Zionist entity is the only country which has benefited from the Arab Spring.
“The Arab Spring has born no fruit for any of the affected countries, so the ongoing process should rather be called “the Israel Spring”, since no country now poses a threat to Israel. External forces seek to divide and weaken all the countries surrounding Israel in order to ensure that state’s security,” said Marwan.
- Israel’s Herzliya Center Sneaks Into Lebanon (alethonews.wordpress.com)
In an April 4 op-ed on IsraelNationalNews.com titled “The Christian Era in the Middle East is Over,” Giulio Meotti declared:
Arab Christians have been Islamicized. Supported by the Vatican and the Orthodox Churches, they choose the war against the Jews. They will be paid back with their own extinction.
A little over a month later, Meotti appears to have changed his tune. In a May 12 op-ed on Ynetnews.com titled “Christians, Jews to unite against Islam?” the Italian author of “A New Shoah” reports on a new alignment of the Abrahamic religions:
The Coliseum, where thousands upon thousands of “Judaeis” have been massacred by the Roman emperors, became for one night an arena for alliance between Christians and Jews against “odium fidei,” or religious hatred.
Last Wednesday in Rome, Jewish leaders for the first time rallied alongside Christians in a candlelit vigil to denounce the attacks in the Middle East and Africa. It was “interfaith” or “ecumenical” dialogue at its best. Forget the theological questions, which remain unsolvable. There is an urgent mutual solidarity about the single most defining issue of our time: religious freedom.
It is about the right to life of Jews and Christians in an Islamicized Middle East. Speaking at the Coliseum, Rome’s Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni slammed Western “indifference” surrounding the massacre of minorities in the Middle East.
But if Meotti is so concerned about the massacre of Christian minorities in the region, why doesn’t he denounce the key role Israel partisans played in bringing about the Iraq War or their cheering on of the Arab Spring both of which have greatly facilitated the “Islamicized Middle East” he decries?
There is something quite unique about the Middle East’s “Resistance Axis” which includes Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, Hamas and a smattering of smaller groups opposed to western imperialism and zionism.
It is the only major grouping or alliance in the region that includes 1) Arab and Iranian, 2) Sunni and Shia, 3) Islamist and Secularist.
People in this part of the world use communal and political affiliations as a calling card. First name, last name, village of origin, neighborhood, school, mosque, church, group of friends, reading material…all of these things are a quick measure of “identity.”
This emotional link to community has often been exploited as a useful political tool to split people across national, political and religious lines. I have written before about these three “Mideast Stink Bombs,” cleverly wielded by dictators, religious extremists and western hegemonists to “divide-and-rule” the region’s populations to advantage.
The Resistance Axis poses an existential threat to these antagonists, whose very authority depends on vilifying the “Other:” the longterm Saudi project to demonize the Shia/Iran; pro-US autocrats and monarchies using “radical Islam” as an excuse to exclude moderate Islamists from the political process; manufacturing an Iranian “nuclear threat” to isolate a foe and justify weapons sales and military build-ups.
Instead, the rather successful alliance of Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah annihilates the argument that these “differences” are unbreachable fault lines in the Middle East. We can see with our own eyes, that here – standing strong and supportive in the face of common external foes – are Shiite, Sunni, Islamist, Secularist, Arab and Iranian.
Wrenching Away Our Sunni
So it is not at all surprising that the moment the Arab Spring touched a member of this Axis – Syria –all hands came on board to exploit any vulnerabilities and crow about the imminent break-up of the Resistance.
I recall the Wall Street Journal first breaking the Hamas-defecting-from-Axis story – it was called: Hamas Removing Staff From Syria – that bit was true. The next two paragraphs, however, greedily projected on the storyline: “The Islamic militant group’s parting of ways with Mr. Assad…” and the even more ambitious “Leaving Syria also distances Hamas from Iran…”
Plenty of Hamas officials went on the record denying a break with Syria and Iran, but the WSJ story grew legs, arms and heads. Not many western journalists rushed to cover the visit of Hamas’ top official in Gaza travelling to Iran afterward. But they went full-court press when the very same Ismail Haniyeh addressed a select crowd inside Cairo’s Al Azhar Mosque, saying: “I salute all people of the Arab Spring, or Islamic winter, and I salute the Syrian people who seek freedom, democracy and reform.”
The New York Times’ unabashed interpretation of that solitary quote leads its breaking story: “A leader of Hamas spoke out against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, throwing its support behind the opposition…”
Actually, no. Assad and Iran and Russia and China also claim to support freedom, democracy and reform for the Syrian people. They are just as vague about from whence this freedom, democracy and reform will come as was Haniyeh during his Friday Prayer sermon.
So where exactly does Hamas stand on Resistance? And what does this mean for the future of the group and the geopolitics of the region?
The Arab Spring has made way for the “established opposition” in various countries to unseat autocratic governments. The most entrenched opponents of secular, pro-US regimes in the Mideast happen to be Islamists – most of which are of Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) origin, like Hamas.
But while Hamas was marked as an early “winner” of the Arab Spring – their co-religionists in Egypt were, after all, meant to sweep away the previous regime’s oppressive actions against Gaza – they instead found themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place in Syria.
It is the old holdover of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria that forms the backbone of the opposition there. And so Hamas found itself in the indelicate position of being expected to choose between its Islamist identity and its Resistance identity. It is worth noting that other Islamist Resistance Axis members do not seem to struggle with the issue: even other Sunni groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) who have also been under scrutiny over this very issue. It really begs the question: is Hamas just too big a Resistance prize for regional players who want this Axis destroyed? The ones courting Hamas assiduously – and asking them to make these choices – are the same ones trying to break Syria’s back, isolate Iran, neutralize Hezbollah and stop armed resistance in Gaza (PIJ).
Hamas: Islamist or Resistance?
It is a difficult challenge for the group. The fact is that Hamas is both Islamist and Resistance. The question of whether one prevails over the other is an interesting one, and has been with me since my August 2010 interview with Hamas Chief Khaled Meshaal, at which time I concluded: “Hamas is clearly a national liberation movement that has at it roots a “resistance” outlook. It’s focus is the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation, and the group’s Islamist character complements rather than competes with Hamas’ political objectives.”
Meshaal even took a crack at explaining the roots of the Resistance Bloc, which has long been an area of interest for me: “The forming of this bloc is a natural consequence of events in the region – firstly, the presence of Israel and its atrocities against the region, and then the failure of the negotiation process to achieve something substantial… So there is a vacuum. There is a fiasco. There is a frustration. There is an increasing fury and anger among the masses. And now, embarrassment at the official level in the region. Resistance has therefore become an attractive model for states in the region.”
Prescient statement. The Arab Awakening, of course, kicked off a few short months later in Tunisia.
But then Meshaal said something very interesting, which I think goes to the heart of this Axis. Pointing to Iran, Syria, Turkey, Sudan and Qatar, Meshaal insisted: “They each have their own modus operandi and interests. Something these nations do share, however, is the self-desire to develop this new trend, but at the same time to remain open – not closed or bound – to enjoying options.”
In other words, the Resistance Axis is not an ideological grouping – it is an opportunistic one. An alliance based more on common goals than commonalities. When Saudi Prince Faisal famously quizzed Meshaal about his alliance with Iran, the Hamas chief explained: “Yes, we have relations with Iran and will do so with whomever supports us. We will say thank you to them, but this is not at the expense of our Arab relations. We are a resistance movement, open to the Arabs, to the Muslims and to all countries in the world, and we are not part of any agenda for regional forces.”
Does Hamas know where Hamas is going?
Which brings us to today. In my view, Hamas is exploring its options right now. I have confirmation from both Hamas and Iran that financial assistance continues as before. And it seems that every time speculation about worsening relations hits a peak, a senior Hamas official pops up in Tehran to dispel rumors.
Syria is a much harder problem. Hamas officials tell me that the reason for vacating their political office in Damascus is because other nationals were refusing to meet them in Syria. But let’s be honest, the sectarian undercurrents in both Syria and the region – fanned heavily by Saudis, Qataris, Salafists and the western cabal hyper-focused on Iran – are putting the screws on Hamas.
The group is under tremendous pressure from these parties to break from the Resistance Axis, which many have disparagingly dubbed the “Shiite Crescent.” They have offered money, incentives, sanctuary to Hamas. They have used threats. They have invoked the “Brotherhood” of the Sunni. But then consider this: why, a year later, are we still uncertain of Hamas’ position regarding its alliance with Iran, Hezbollah and Syria.
A rather observant pro-Resistance source remarked the other day: “Hamas is under tremendous pressure to criticize Syria, and that’s all they came up with? It’s not very convincing. Hamas is not giving opinions voluntarily about Syria, I can assure you.”
As Hamas looks to the future and finds many natural co-religionist allies in the various Ikhwan groups emerging on the Arab political landscape, it will be faced with the same dilemma – this time from a different direction. The Islamist character of Hamas may be more fulfilled, but will there be a big gaping hole in their resistance outlook?
Can the Ikhwan get them Palestine? Or can Iran, Syria and Hezbollah fulfill that long-held ambition? Part of the problem with the emerging Ikhwan political parties is that Saudi Arabia, Qatar – even the United States – are trying to guide their direction. If successful, that will not be a comfortable home for Hamas. These new “mentors” will not allow them much breathing space – these are the Old Regimes that actively support the regional Old Order and encourage “flexibility” with Israel.
The big dog-and-pony show of a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation led to Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas taking the lead. What became of Hamas’ awkward Jordanian visit that was only possible because of Qatari hand-holding? Fatah and Jordan are the last places to look for a Palestinian solution – they are too beholden to western interests.
The new mentors will bang away at Hamas; demand political blood from the group; push them toward unpalatable concessions. A wise colleague points out: “Hamas will be finished when it becomes Fatah.”
In a 2009 interview with Usama Hamdan, Hamas’ international relations chief told me: “In the West, they try to shape you before dealing with you. This is the Palestinian experience. They’ve done this with Fatah. Hamas’ position is to say what we are, what we stand for – clearly – and we can defend our rights best that way.”
An equally-senior Hamas official told me recently in a lengthy off-the-record conversation that there were “good changes” taking place in the region, but “real dangers” ahead: “The international community does not care about the people of the region… the conflict still is between real independence and being under occupation – or the influence of outsiders.”
He also refuses the notion that Islamist trends in the region will end up hostile to the Resistance: “You can’t say the Ikhwan is against Resistance – they have been real supporters of Hamas.”
There are two main priorities for Hamas these days, he says: “The needs of the people in the region and dealing with Israel and its supporters.”
Hamas may evolve in the next few years, but if it cleaves to its core values – somewhere in the middle of the current leadership’s political spectrum – I think you will find a group that will not commit itself to concepts or allies outside of those parameters. The group will talk to all players, consider all options, test the new waters of this fast-changing region – as it should. In the final analysis, it is the liberation of Palestine that bestows popular legitimacy on this group, and Hamas will need to choose the path that best serves that goal.
And Resistance itself might change, as one Hamas official hinted to me. If sectarianism can be contained, when this ferocious geopolitical Battle of the Blocs is over, we might perhaps even see a clean sweep from the Persian Gulf to North Africa of people rejecting foreign hegemony and Zionism. This is what the Old Guard fears most – and the vast majority of Arabs, Iranians, Sunni, Shia, Islamists and Secularists wholeheartedly support.
It will take some time, but I will have my Sunni back.
Sharmine Narwani is a commentary writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. You can follow Sharmine on twitter @snarwani.