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Are you serious? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The above title is a popular expression of disapproval previously used by my colleague Dr. Mamoun Fandy in an article about the previous stances of the Qatari Prime Minister. Now I find myself having to borrow the same expression following the rhetoric put forth by the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Mishal, in his recent address in Qatar.

At the “Islamists and Democratic Governance….Experiences and Trends” conference, Mishal said that Hamas was trying to “combine resistance with government, but this is difficult”, calling – and may he keep talking – upon the need to take the Palestinian case in its own context and not compare it to cases of political Islam in other Arab states. He went on to say that Hamas was a national liberation movement, not just a political Islamist movement. Mishal therefore believes that in light of such a situation, there is no such thing as “Islamist rule in the Gaza Strip”. He pointed out that Hamas has been the driving force behind the [governance] experience there and has learned from it, saying “we have made mistakes and we are learning from them”. However, he added that the Hamas experience in governance should not be taken as a model example except when it comes to learning lessons!

In plain language without any manipulation or lies, and without any embellishment or spin, Mishal wants to say that he and his comrades in Hamas have failed in Gaza after their coup, and have undermined all opportunities for an emerging Palestinian state and the peace process at the same time. He also wants to say that this failure should not be attributed to them being Islamists, but rather it is an experience to learn lessons from, and not a general indication that the Arab Islamists have failed in governance!

Here, to use a colloquial phrase that everyone in the region understands, including those in Qatar where Mishal was once hailed for his opposition and resistance, and now for his lessons in democratic governance, one can only ask: are you serious? Of course, I will not trawl through the thousand and one statements from Hamas and Mishal about their “dynamic” Islamism, but rather let me ask the fickle Mishal a series of simple yet alarming questions: What about the roughly 1,200 people who were killed during the Gaza war? What about the corruption of the state project? What about your reneging of the agreement you signed in Mecca regarding Palestinian reconciliation? What about your prayers at the Iranian altar? What about destroying everything built by the Oslo Accords, which you attacked without shame or conscience? Should we now all stand and applaud Mishal because he has said that Hamas has failed in Gaza, something we have repeatedly stated ourselves? Indeed, all those who supported him must surely feel ashamed! Is it not the case that Mishal is now seeking to “cleanse” himself by siding with the Syrian revolution, just like the queue of Brotherhood affiliates in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere who see the Syrian revolution as an opportunity to let bygones be bygones, and jump on the Arab Spring bandwagon?

In summary, I would say that the failure of Hamas is certainly linked to the governance failures of Islamists in general, whether in Gaza, Sudan, Iran and likewise the Taliban. Of course Hamas, and others like it, cannot be compared to the Islamists of Turkey or Malaysia, to whom they bear no resemblance, just as the rules that govern Turkey and Malaysia’s Islamists are not present in our region to control Hamas or those like it.

So, with the case of Mishal, one can only recall the famous hadith: If you have no modesty you can do whatever you like!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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