Turns out Hamas isn’t really an Iran proxy

Paul Scham writes: One of the most enduring epithets for Hamas, right up there with “terrorist,” is “proxy.” If you Google “Hamas Iran proxy,” you get 1,750,000 hits. The idea that the relationship between Sunni Hamas, the Gaza affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Shia Iran was merely a marriage of convenience and not a true love match is rejected by those who forget that most enduring maxim of Middle East politics: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” And implicit in that maxim are two more words: “for now.”

This conventional wisdom is due for a makeover. On January 17, a Ha’aretz headline announced “Hamas brutally assaults Shi’a worshippers in Gaza.” The article reported that Hamas fears “growing Iranian influence in Gaza.” But for years, we have been told that it is Hamas itself that represents Iranian influence in Gaza. What gives?

Further down in the article, the picture begins to make sense when we read that Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) members in Gaza are “converting” to Shiism. For Hamas, the “Arab spring” does not lead to a “summer of roses and wine” (with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan). A day later Khaled Meshal, the head of the organization, still based in Damascus, unexpectedly announced his resignation. The regional picture is changing, and Hamas is trying to catch up.

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1 thought on “Turns out Hamas isn’t really an Iran proxy

  1. Osama

    Wow, you learn something new everyday. Although not in this case. I wouldn’t expect anyone in the states to know anything valid, relevant, accurate, or even remotely close to the reality of what’s going in in the middle east. Everything is discussed in broad brush strokes, and the reality is so nuanced. Hamas is founded on the same principles as the Muslim brotherhood, they are islamists, but the kind that the US has recently learned to love, see free democratic free and fair elections in Tunis and Egypt. But also see their strong showing in not so free and fair, Morocco and Jordan.

    Very simply, Hamas is hedging. They don’t want to end on the losing side, if they are forced to choose. So they will try and delay choosing for as long as possible. They are under pressure from their MB extended family to come out against the Syria regime by leaving Damascus, but at they same time their cause is Palestine not a pan Arab revolt against the dictatorial republics.

    The attack against Shia converts may be a local action, it is not driven by policy, I think that too many people are waiting for signs from them and they are trying to make mountain out of mole hills to show Hamas coming out to one side. Anyway, in the great scheme of things Hamas choosing one side versus the other will only represent a moral victory, but everyone has to be sure of one thing, their is too much at stake for Hamas to take this decision lightly.

    By the way, the two side are not freedom loving Arabs versus despots, the two side are about the vision for the middle east. On the one hand we have the US Saudi/GCC wanting to settle with Israel and to rollback Iran and impose their vision and on the other, we have Iran and Syria resisting a US mandate and unwilling to cooperate in allowing the US to call the shots for the region. Right now the US has suffered a long series of reversals and based on the current geopolitical climate, I think Russia and China are perfectly ready to let The US stay over stretched and keep this going.

    By the way Libya was not a win in the above context, it is a clear loss, at least qadaffy was willing to do what he was told (eventually).

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