15 February 2012

More on Hamas

After I posted my previous analysis on Hamas being at a crossroads, the two sides (and their patrons) came out of the closet.

As reported, Haniya went to see Ali Khamenei, who praised him for his intransigent stance towards Israel and lectured him on resistance.
Khamenei's comments come as divisions within Hamas have emerged on a possible overhaul of the organisation's strategy. 
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal signed an agreement with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas earlier this month placing Abbas at the head of an interim government charged with organising elections later this year. 
The agreement struck by Meshaal's foreign-based leadership with Abbas's Fatah faction has run into serious opposition from Hamas members inside the Gaza Strip, which the movement has controlled since ousting the president's loyalists in 2007. 
In November, Meshaal called for "peaceful popular resistance," which would respresent a shift in the movement away from armed struggle. 
He also expressed support for the establishment of a Palestinian state on territories occupied in 1967 in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem as its capital.
As expected, Haniya reaffirmed that Hamas was never going to recognize the existence of Israel:
Haniya was quoted as telling Khamenei that the goal of Hamas remained "freedom of all the Palestinian land from the (Mediterranean) sea to the (Jordan) river, the refusal of peace talks and the Islamic character of the Palestinian struggle." 
On Saturday, Haniya said in a speech in Tehran that Hamas "will never recognise Israel."
While Haniya was going to Iran through Bahrain, at about the same time, Meshaal was talking to the Emir of Qatar and earlier in the month, upon the Emir's urging, he stated that he is ready to accept Mahmoud Abbas as the Prime Minister of a future unified Palestinian state.

That clearly means a radical change of direction for Hamas, as it implies that Hamas is accepting Abbas' flexible stance and softer approach.

Curiously, Haniya initially voiced his support for the unity deal. But, as he was touring Iran and talking to the Supreme Leader, other voices began to be heard:
Senior Hamas official Mahmud Zahar slammed a Palestinian unity deal as a "mistake" that has thrown the Islamist movement into crisis, in an interview with Egypt's official MENA agency published on Sunday. (...)
The deal signed in Qatar ends a long-running disagreement over the premiership that stalled Palestinian reconciliation, but Zahar said that "practically it can not be implemented."
"If the consultations took place among the small circle around the political bureau (headed by Meshaal abroad), then this is unacceptable," he said.
The agreement "needs to be reviewed, so Hamas leaders at home and abroad will meet over the issue in the coming two days."
He said after a series of discussions with Hamas officials and MPs "we found that many feel there is a real crisis."
I am sure Zahar is right and there is a real crisis. And its outcome will have a very profound effect on the forces and events that are shaping the region.

There is another major crisis that is going on right now and although no one is paying attention to it, this one will have even more important consequences. That's next.

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