Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Decision Time for Hamas | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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We are entering a new era following the end of the Israeli war on Gaza; the positions have been examined and the results have become known, and things are presently less ambiguous. The leaders of the Hamas movement- because there is not one single leader that can be addressed- have two choices with regards to their [foreign] relations that will decide the fate of the movement, especially as they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses in confronting [Israel].

Hamas’s strength revealed itself in their confrontation with Israel and endurance, despite the fact that the Gaza Strip did not provide them with what Hezbollah possessed in Lebanon, such as open borders, local allies, a large missile force, and a country under its control. Without any of these vital ingredients for confrontation Hamas has endured, and remains a player in the Palestinian political arena.

As for its weakness, this can be seen in the Hamas movement’s powerlessness in the field of conflict as a result of the terrible bombardment campaign undertaken by the Israeli military machine, and their humiliation in the eyes of the Palestinian citizens due to Hamas’s inability to protect them [the citizens] from the horrendous Israeli attack, add to this months of suffering from an unprecedentedly long blockade depriving the people of the most basic necessities for living. All of which have been blamed on the policies of Hamas. It will not be easy for them to convince many of the Gazan population of the logic behind an ant confronting an elephant, targeting Israel with cartoon rockets, while meanwhile families pay the [highest] price, the lives of their children.

The Arab cheers for the valiance of Hamas does not matter, because they [the Arabs] have become accustomed to welcoming the sacrifices of others, and this acclaim has stung leaders far more popular and better equipped than the Hamas leadership, for example [Jamal Abdul] Nasser and Saddam [Hussein].

Away from the tallying of losses and gains, Hamas is facing a new history, and has been given another chance to review its position and chose between staying in Iran’s camp, or returning to the Arab side. Following the harsh experience [of the war] the Hamas leadership has a better [public] image after its traumatic experiences there, and the Arabs realize that their estrangement from the Hamas movement may have been a mistake that needs rectifying.

Today, due to the repercussions of the war- the region ha become even more divided than it was during the days of the Israeli war in Lebanon [Lebanon July War 2006] or Hezbollah’s war against the Sunni population of Beirut [May 2008 conflict]. Hamas must be aware that they were used by Iran to attack the Arabs in an unprecedented way that surpasses any previous antagonism. Iran has progressed as a result of this, and made advancements on the ground to an extremely dangerous point, which includes the attempt to create chaos in Arab countries opposed to it, and explicitly seeking to destroy Saudi Arabia, and incite the overthrow of the Egyptian regime. Such audacity serves only to unite Arab countries against Hamas. However it is also just and reasonable to say that the door is still open; it is up to the Hamas movement to choose between returning to the Arab family or remaining a weapon in the hands of Iran.

Hamas is in a good position, and must negotiate with itself with regards to its own relationship with the Arabs, who can only respect Hamas and ensure its political and material rights on Palestinian soil. Generally speaking, we know that Hamas is not a singular organization, despite the similarity of its language and political façade; there is Hamas the hostage to Damascus and Tehran and whose leaders live in hotels, and there is the Gazan Hamas who have paid a high price in order to fulfill the orders of their brothers in Damascus, the results of which were always disastrous. The Gazan Hamas must chose between Tehran or Cairo.