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Hamas and the Dejected Mediator - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Continuing the attempts to understand Washington ’s thinking on Middle East issues , I asked a specific question: If I were to travel and meet with Hamas’ leadership, is there a message I could pass on, as a mediator between them and Washington? The answer I received is: you would be a dejected mediator.

If America wants to spread democracy in the Arab and Muslim worlds by encouraging free elections, and Hamas is in power as a direct result of these elections, how then can Washington turn around and say: “No, we won’t deal with them.” The answer, which might upset a few people, is that if you commit murder on Monday and are elected to office on Tuesday, this does not grant you immunity from prosecution. Hamas has to recognize agreements signed with Israel and condemn suicide operations.

In Washington , one hears of two surprises. One concerns the American administration and the other Hamas. Washington is astonished at Hamas’ lack of political prowess. For example, what if the Islamic movement has denounced the recent suicide attack in Tel Aviv? It would have embarrassed both Abu Mazen and Washington.

As for Hamas, there are some in Washington who believe that the strong stance of donors and the suspension of aid, even from Europe , coupled with the difficulty of some members of the Palestinian government in obtaining travel visas, have shocked Ismail Haniya’s government.

Hamas has also been astounded to discover that governing is harder than being an opposition. But what of Iran ’s financial support to Hamas? There are some in Washington who doubt Iran would donate a single penny to the Palestinians, and if it did, the sole purpose would be to fund suicide bombings.

A more dangerous argument is one which asks: given the crisis in Rwanda and Darfur , why fund the Palestinians when they do not seek peace? The logic behind this view is that financial support is an investment in peace, which Hamas does not want, as Washington sees it.

Others in Washington believe Hamas’s agenda is not to serve the Palestinians but to implement the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology.

Does this imply the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is under fire as well? It is said there is a difference between the two groups, given that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt renounced violence close to a decade ago. But what about Hamas’ condemnation of the Dahab attacks, a move welcomed by Paris as a positive step?

The answer is the Islamic movement acted to appease the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, out of fear of losing his support. Would Mubarak, however, sacrifice thirty years of bloody political battles that Egypt fought, simply for the sake of Hamas?

I recall an Arab official saying Fatah had lost because of the corruption that engulfed its services; a view which had not been acknowledged in the past!

Will we hear in the future that Hamas aborted what the Palestinians had achieved because of a lack political prowess?

In Washington , there are some who believe the European and Japanese stance towards Hamas mirror that of the US government. There are shortcomings in the US ’s understanding of sensitive details in the region. It is also clear that Hamas is involved in a game but does not understand how its opponent thinks. This is both wrong and dangerous!

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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