The Muslim Fundamentalist Palestinian party-militia Hamas, based largely in the Gaza Strip has abruptly broken with its long-time patron, Syria.
The leadership has scattered from its offices in Syria to elsewhere in the region, especially Egypt and Qatar.
Hamas, although considered an international terrorist group by Washington, is actually just a local, organized resistance movement on behalf of the Palestinians (who are stateless and rights-less).
The startling development could signal a further evolution of the organization away from violent tactics, and toward a firmer alliance with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar, under the impact of the Arab Spring. In turn that move implies cooler relations with Syria and Iran.
The USG Open Source Center had translated an article on Hamas and Syria from the leftist Lebanese newspaper as-Safir; this article is suddenly outdated by Friday’s break between al-Assad and Ismail Haniyeh.
“Al-Safir Cites HAMAS Leaders on Syrian Crisis, Internal Issues, Regional Changes
Report by Qasim Qasir: “HAMAS Reorganizes the Islamic House After the Arab Revolutions; What Is Happening in Syria Is Painful and There Is Coordination With Hizballah”
Monday, February 20, 2012
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
Leaders in the HAMAS movement do not hide their concern about what is happening in the region despite their satisfaction with the fall of a number of Arab regimes and the arrival of the Islamic movements to advanced positions of power in a number of Arab countries, especially Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia. They, however, believe that the battle “is continuing and the transitional period is going to be long and may take several years, and so it is premature to judge the new Islamic experience and its performance and positions.”
These HAMAS leaders are following “with pain what is happening in Syria” and they stress that they have not spared any effort to contribute to addressing the Syrian crisis over the past few months, but they have not received an adequate response. Nevertheless, they say “we are always ready to contribute to any effort that hastens an end to the crisis and puts things on the right track because the continuation of the Syrian crisis is in the interest of the United States while ending it as soon as possible is in the interest of the resistance forces.”
What draws attention here is that the movement’s leaders are still committed to the position expressed by the HAMAS leadership at the beginning of the Syrian crisis. That position emphasizes “the importance of the role played by Syria in supporting and embracing the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine” while stressing commitment to what the Syrian people decide in terms of reform and change. Therefore, they prefer not to announce any new positions on the level of the Syrian crisis, except for the recent positions expressed by Isma’il Haniyah, prime minister of the dismissed Palestinian government, who wished a quick end to the crisis…
With regard to the changes taking place in a number of Arab countries after the Islamists’ arrival to power and with regard to the position the Palestinian cause occupies in their programs, the HAMAS leaders say that during the past years these countries faced many problems on the level of development and economic conditions, loss of freedoms, and imbalance in building the political and constitutional institutions. Therefore, it was not strange that the Islamists in these countries gave priority during the first stage to the internal economic and social aspects and to the reorganization of their relations with other countries, but this will not be at the expense of the attention given to the Palestinian cause. Positions or statements inconsistent with the principled positions on the Palestinian cause and the Zionist entity may have been made, but efforts are currently under way to address these issues with the leaders of Arab countries that have witnessed change.
The movement’s leaders say that an integrated memorandum has recently been prepared on the position of the Islamic forces and movements on the Palestinian cause, adding that this memorandum has been circulated to all the Islamic forces and movements that have ties with the Muslim Brotherhood so that it will serve as the background from which to proceed when talking about the Palestinian cause as this will prevent the occurrence of any problems, especially in the wake of the changes taking place in a number of Arab countries.
The leading figures in the movement emphasize that “our relationship with Hizballah and the Islamic Republic of Iran continues and there is permanent coordination and cooperation on the level of the highest leadership positi ons. Dr Isma’il Haniyah’s visit to Tehran and his participation in celebrations on the anniversary of the victory of Islamic revolution and the positions he declared there are the most powerful response to all those who are trying to cast doubt on this relationship or to say that the movement is reorganizing its relations within new axes, although it is more correct to say that rearranging priorities is linked to the practical (technical) conditions and not to the firm political positions, especially on the resistance.”
On the recent agreement reached with PA President Mahmud Abbas (Abu-Mazin) in Qatar, the leaders in the movement say that this agreement “is the fruit of contacts and meetings that have continued for some time and it does not mean there are concessions but rather an attempt to strengthen the role of the resistance, address the Palestinian people’s suffering under the siege, and contribute to putting the Palestinian house in order in preparation for holding new parliamentary and presidential elections and reorganizing the status of the PLO. As for objection to this agreement by some HAMAS leaders, this will not lead to any problems because the issue will be addressed within the framework of the internal HAMAS house.”
The leading HAMAS figures confirmed what was recently published about the desire of Khalid Mish’al (Abu-al-Walid), head of the Political Bureau of the movement, not to run again for the post of head of the Political Bureau at the end of the current session as part of the effort to renew the leading cadres, but they explain that no practical measure has been taken so far and “all options are open and the issue is up to the leading institutions in the movement and this has nothing to do with changes in the region.”
The leaders of HAMAS say that the biggest risk facing the Arab revolutions and the countries of the region is sedition and, therefore, “work is needed to confront this sedition and prevent the occurrence of any sectarian or political differences, and search for an Arab and Islamic plan that is in harmony with the circumstances of the Arab countries without importing other models from abroad, but instead benefiting from all the Arab, Islamic, and historical experiences.”
In conclusion, the leaders of the movement say: “We are facing a variable phase, which may last several years and we must follow up what is happening carefully and accurately because the United States and the West have made several plans to prevent, disable, or absorb the revolutions. The Arab and Islamic forces should be aware of all the risks and respond to them with joint plans in order to protect the Arab interests, the role of the resistance, and the question of Palestine.”