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Hamas in Gaza and Damascus - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Khalid Mishal, in Damascus, is saying no to a permanent truce and to negotiations, and is rejecting the proposed agreement regarding crossings that is based on the 2005 version, out of fear for the movement’s weapons and not out of fear for the safety of the people of Gaza. However, the speech delivered by Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza was somewhat different.

Haniyeh’s speech contradicted Mishal’s comments despite that he spoke about victory prevailing over destruction. He said, “We will work positively with any initiative that aims to bring [Israeli] aggression to an end, to bring about withdrawal, to end the siege and to open the crossings.”

Mishal, who lives in Damascus, where he cannot hear the humming of Israeli fighter jets, called for an uprising in the Arab world, whilst Haniyeh on the other hand refused subtly to criticize the Arabs. Moreover, his recent comments differed to the statements he made during the first few days of attacks when he said that Hamas would persevere even if Israel obliterated Gaza and everything in it.

The main concern today is to rescue Gaza from the brutality of Israeli aggression, which has caused almost one thousand deaths. But it seems that this was not a concern at all for the Hamas leadership in Damascus, until it became clear that the death toll in Gaza and the suffering of the Gaza Strip’s residents are the most effective weapons for Hamas in Damascus.

On Tuesday morning, Al Arabiya broadcast an interview with an eyewitness in Gaza who spoke to the television channel amid attacks. This man was more eloquent than the Hamas leadership. He said, “We want the aggression to stop now, we want a truce, we want unity, we want to live. We are peaceful people my brother!”

It is worth mentioning that during the first few days of the Israeli attack on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, Hassan Nasrallah said that whoever loves Lebanon should stop the aggression against it. Nasrallah had realized that halting the aggression gave him legitimacy amongst Arabs, whilst prolonging the confrontation would cause him to lose Lebanon internally.

Yet, the Hamas leadership, in Damascus in particular, fails to understand this point. It seems that it does not understand politics, and more importantly, the necessity of protecting its own people. Who does the movement rely on to protect the people of Gaza?

Mishal, who lives in Syria, knows that when Syria protested officially, and strongly, against Israel giving Golan wine as a New Year gift to UN staff, it went directly to the UN. Yet Damascus wants to engage in the Gaza battle [not against Israel but] against the Arab states!

Iran has done nothing but divide the Palestinians, whilst Hezbollah settled for employing the weapon of rhetoric. We have [Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister] Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim al Thani saying that the Israeli trade office in Doha will be closed when there is a collective Arab decision [to cut ties with Israel]. But the question here is; were the Arabs consulted the day that office was opened?

Sheikh Hamad asked, “Why should we make sacrifices when nobody else does?” Glory be to God! Is closing the Israeli trade office a “sacrifice” in comparison with the blood that is being shed in Gaza and the suffering of its people?

As long as everybody is in agreement on the brutality of Israel, we must be aware of the danger of the positions of some parties in the region and some of their Arab alliances who employ the weapon of rhetoric. The following question should be addressed: Is Hamas, and especially Hamas in Damascus, aware of its responsibility towards the suffering of the people of Gaza?

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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