Friday, June 28, 2013

Hamas and the Egyptian internal struggle

Egypt is heading to growing internal problems and Hamas is part of the overall Egyptian crisis. Hamas involvement in Egypt is part of its overall regional perception- it perceives itself less as a Palestinian group but more as regional player. We may define it as: less bothered with Palestinian statehood and more interested in the Caliphate project.
Hamas senior in the West Bank, Aziz Dwek, the speaker of the defunct Palestinian Legislative Council was frank in stating earlier this week that Hamas is more in interested now in the Jihad in Syria than in the liberation of Palestine.
Actually, Dwek is not considered in Gaza as a genuine Hamas representative. In order to understand this point we have to get a better look into the nature of Hamas affiliation with the mother movement—Moslem Brothers.
Moslem Brothers came into unwritten agreement with the USA which is called "political Islam". The leader who represented the Moslem Brothers in the secret meetings with the USA was no less than the main preacher Sheikh Qaradhawi. The basic understanding was that Moslem Brothers will abandon the "resistance" and Jihad against Israel and the west and shift their activity to political lines: establishing political parties, engaged in elections rather than terror and get allied with the USA.
Egyptian Moslem Brothers of course endorsed Qaradhawi agreement and came to power in Egypt. As far as Hamas was concerned- they were pressured to give up "resistance" and apply to only political means. The two figures that were approached in this regard were Mussa Abu Marzuq and Khaled Mash'al. Abu Marzuq gave no reference about any possible future acceptance of political Islam, while Khaled Mash'al launched a series of radical statements about his refusal to accept the terms of political Islam and adhered to the resistance principle.
In practical terms he disqualified himself of becoming member in the global Moslem Brothers Shura – the supreme body of the global movement. Aziz Dwek from the West Bank was nominated instead of him. In his statement earlier this week Dwek expressed the real mood inside Moslem Brothers ranks and file—that Syria comes first—not Palestine. When he referred to jihad—it was not against Israel or the west—only to Syria. It means that West Bank political echelons- as distinct from the military wing – are not Hamas anymore but pure Moslem Brothers. They also did not participate in the Shura elections of Hamas.
So, the West Bank political echelons are affiliated to Moslem Brothers in Cairo – or Amman – and not to Hamas in Gaza.
But also Gaza has its problems that animate from both crises: in Syria and in Egypt.
As far as the crisis in Syria is concerned- while Khaled Mash'al supported Qaradhawi's famous call for jihad in Syria—furthermore, stood beside him when he addressed the crowds in Doha, Mahmud Zahhar and the Qassam Brigades stuck to Iran and Hizbullah.
Zahhar's influence is considered to be by large more effective than of Mash'al that beside limited support by Haniyya has no influence at all. Haniyya accompanied him in his latest visit in Turkey, but it seemed to me more to manifest unity of the movement and not real Haniyya being aligned with Mash'al. Haniyya by large is part and parcel of the local Hamas leadership that is not ready to accept Mash'al and does not consider the West Bank echelons as true Hamas.
Nevertheless, Mash'al standing beside Qaradhawi in the jihad call created a problem between Hamas and Iran – despite Zahhar and friends support to Iran. Iran stopped the subsidies to Gaza and began charging Hamas for the weapons supplied buy Iran. In looks to me as an excuse of the part of Iran not send money that is by far more needed in Syria than in Gaza.
The problems with Iran renewed the old tensions with Islamic Jihad. While Hamas is tilting between Iran and Moslem Brothers- Islamic Jihad is steady with Iran. Hamas worried that Islamic Jihad will break the ceasefire with Israel and began arresting the cadres that were suspected as launchers on Israel- in one of these episodes an Islamic Jihad senior- Raed Jundia – was killed and Iran was obliged to mediate again – like it did in the past – to mend the problem.
It was not a difficult task as Islamic Jihad and the dominant pro Iran wing of Hamas are cooperating in Sinai and in Egypt proper and are involved in the current crisis. The army is very much aware of it and is serious in destroying the tunnels that are perceived now as an immediate threat on the Egyptian security.
So, Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah are working against the army and are focusing now on Sinai in order to devaluate the prestige of the army and get it complicated with Israel.

Sum up- Hamas now perceives itself now more as regional power that participate in the regional developments and less than Palestinian. Aziz Dwek said it in the open.
The involvement of Hamas in regional issues created a gap between the local leadership in Gaza that is supporting Iran and the outside leadership of Mash'al that is supporting Moslem Brothers.
The pro Iran wing – together with Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah is involved in subversive activity in Sinai that aims at hitting the prestige of the Egyptian army and complicating its relations with Israel.