Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Hamas are Sunnis! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Khalid Mishal’s speech in Iran has led to questions as to whether the leader of the Hamas movement has sufficient political awareness. Mishal’s actions have confounded some of the movement’s leadership, and provoked those who sympathize with the suffering of the Gaza Strip.

Mishal’s actions [in Iran] resulted in Hamas figures publicly responding, reinforcing the belief that there is extreme disparity between the Hamas movement in Damascus and the Gazan Hamas over Tehran which has not provided anything for Hamas and the people of Gaza other than [empty] talk which has benefited no-one.

Ghazi Hamad, a leader of the Hamas movement [in Gaza] responded twice within a two-day period to statements made by the Hamas leader; firstly he explicitly rejected Mishal’s call to form a new Palestinian authority to replace the internationally recognized Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO]. Hamad responded saying that “the Palestinian area is not in need of further division” and declared that he did not accept “a widening of the Palestinian division” adding that “we must return to the language of unity.”

This is not all, Hamad made a second response after Mishal briefed “the Wali Amr [Guardian] of Muslims” Sayyid Ali Khamenei about the war in Gaza. Hamad said “As Sunni Muslims we do not acknowledge Khamenei as Wali Amr [Guardian] of Muslims.”

Dr. Ahmed Yousef, in his role as an adviser in the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said that there is “a significant Arab nationalist trend within Hamas that is interested in strengthening relations with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.” He added that “we in Hamas stress that our Sunni belief is our foundation, we do not want to be tools in anyone’s hands”

The question here then is; what has driven some of the Hamas leadership to publicly affirm that their belief is in Arab nationalism and the Sunni [sect]?

It is clear that Khalid Mishal has put the movement in an awkward position; there are those in the movement who believe that Hamas’s true strength lies with Iran. It is also clear that some of the Gazan Hamas are more aware of the dangers that lie in the actions of Hamas in Damascus.

Certainly [Khalid] Mishal has gone too far in Iran, and acted with political recklessness by throwing himself into the arms of a Tehran that has given nothing to the Palestinians other than reasons for division. Tehran has turned its back on the Palestinians and the Arabs who have faced a long history of war and bloodshed for the sake of the Palestinian cause.

It is untrue that Hamas has not received an extended hand from the Arabs, which is what is currently being said; for what about the Mecca agreement?

What about Mishal’s televised speech following this agreement which Hamas overturned after only a short time [by executing a coup on the Gaza Strip]?

What about Egypt’s efforts to promote inter-Palestinian dialogue?

And these are only a few examples!

If Hamas wants to wade into battle then it must assess the consequences, and notify those it expects to stand with it; and if it wants to come to an agreement about elections, then how can it ignore that these elections were a result of the Oslo Accord which the movement does not recognize?

It would be wrong to destroy Hamas, just as it is wrong to undermine the moderate trend within the movement itself, if such a trend exists. It would be a mistake to vacate the stage and allow Hamas to affix the medal of the Palestinian cause upon the chest of those who have not provided anything to it other than [empty] slogans and the regression of the cause back to square one.

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.

More Posts