Hamas and the Arab Spring

Hussein Ibish writes that the Arab Spring has disrupted Hamas’ base of support:

For more than a decade, Hamas’ strategy was based on being simultaneously allied with both the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood network and the, essentially, Shiite, Iranian-led alliance. This incongruous ideological contortion was made possible by a narrative embraced by both of these broader anti-status quo alignments: that the Middle East was the site of a trans-historic battle between a “culture of resistance” and a “culture of accommodation.”
This narrative has collapsed completely, and is rapidly being replaced by a new sectarian order pitting Sunni actors, including both Arab governments and Islamists, as well as Turkey, against what is now perceived as the non- or even anti-Sunni alliance led by Iran. This realignment has been most starkly illustrated in Syria, whose pro-Iranian government is now supported entirely by non-Sunni forces in the Middle East and opposed by virtually all Sunni ones.
This has opened up tensions between the Gaza-based leadership and the political bureau (based in Damascus) as the political leadership has to figure out how to deal with Fatah and Israel in the new environment. The column also contained this surprising statement:
[Political bureau head Khaled] Meshaal, according to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has agreed that resistance to occupation must be nonviolent and must seek to create a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. A spokesman for Hamas leaders in Gaza appeared to confirm these commitments, but reiterated that Hamas would not recognize Israel.
In my non-expert opinion, talk has been cheap in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at least since Oslo in 1993. Without holding Israel blameless, I think that the words of various Palestinian parties has been cheaper, at least partially because Palestinians don’t have a unified polity as the Israeli government does (not that there aren’t divisions in Israeli society, but I would think that a government viewed as legitimate by a population allows for promises to be kept in a way that is more difficult for the geographically divided, stateless Palestinians). So it’s a surprising statement in the sense of “hmm, that would be great if it happened,” not “a resolution to the conflict is at hand!”

One comment

  1. Yeah, that is funny. And I think you hit on the key problem of coherency of a unified polity, but like the rest of us, they go with what works.

    It also struck me that they are asserting non-violent means to move Israel to the 1967 borders while refusing to recognize Israel…[‘s right to exist at all]. Some day, they will see the illogic and concede the words if not the actions.

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