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The end of the affair between Hamas and Iran
« on: January 24, 2012, 11:04:42 AM »


The end of the affair between Hamas and Iran
By Michael Weiss World Last updated:
January 17th, 2012

63 Comments Comment on this article

Hamas has fallen out with its former puppet-masters in Iran

According to Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, a group of armed Hamas fighters "brutally attacked" Shi'ite worshippers in the Gaza Strip last Friday, in part of a crackdown on Shi'ite groups that was sparked "by Hamas' fear of growing Iranian influence in Gaza." This is what happens with the Ayatollah stops paying the bills: up until a few months ago, "Iranian influence" was the sole reason for Hamas’ existence.
The two men most responsible in the last decade for ensuring that the Palestinian party of jihad was kept thoroughly flush with arms and cash were Qassam Suleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Mouhsen Hussein Azahi, Iran’s intelligence minister. Since its 2007 seizure of Gaza, Hamas has been on the receiving end of Persian largesse that includes 120mm Grad rockets, Raa’d anti-tank missiles (Iranian knock-offs of the Russian-made Sagger variety), explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) which can cut through eight inches of steels, and the tech savvy to construct and place a host of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Hamas operatives used to spend anywhere between a month and six months training in Iranian camps learning how to fire guns, as well as drinking deep of the Khomeinist-flavoured ideology – without quite making the full leap to Shia Islam. So strong was the nexus between the Sunni terrorist organisation and the Shi’ite theocracy that, a senior agent of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades – the military wing of Hamas – told The Sunday Times in March 2008 that “Anything [the Iranians] think will be useful, our guys there email it to us right away.”
Also, there was money. When Hamas’ administrative head in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, visited Tehran in 2006 and met with Ayatollah Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he was rewarded with $250 million, a bundle that was allegedly confiscated by Egyptian authorities as Haniyeh attempted to make his way back to Gaza via the Rafah border crossing. According to the London-based Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awasat, Hamas was granted an additional $150 million in 2008 contingent on its refusal to negotiate with Israel in any way.
So what dark turn has destroyed so fruitful a marriage of true minds? Nothing other than the imminent demise of the Assad regime in Syria.
Iran wants Hamas to hang around Damascus, currently its global headquarters, and show solidarity with the dictator who advertises himself as the last titan of Arab “resistance”. But Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal has other ideas which is why, when not promising to retire, he’s been shopping for new real estate in the Middle East and shuttering all business in Damascus. As punishment for going wobbly on a regional ally, Iran has reportedly cut some or all of its funding to Hamas, forcing the group into a budgetary shortfall that’s been somewhat compensated by Turkish and Qatari funds.
But how long can this emergency subsidy last? Islamist though the current government in Ankara is, it cannot support an internationally proscribed terrorist organisation forever without jeopardising its ties to the US and Europe, not to say its Nato membership. So either Turkish money will stop flowing or Hamas will have to not just “suspend” its commitment to violence, as it claims to have done recently in order to certify a dead-letter unity deal with its secular rival Fatah – it will have to permanently renounce violence altogether.
Book-keeping aside, Hamas also faces a tough relocation because it is seen a toxic tenant even by ideological sympathisers. A Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt will still have to rely on billions of dollars of American aid, which might be withheld or curtailed if Hamas moved to Cairo. The last time Jordan hosted the group, it had to ask Benjamin Netanyahu for the antidote to a lethal poison Mossad sprayed in Meshaal’s ear canal. Qatar might consider letting space to Meshaal and company in Doha, but Emir Al Thani — also a US ally who has recently advocated Arab intervention in Syria – would likely force Hamas into becoming a furry, loud-barking JINO (jihadist in name only).
Meanwhile, the mullahs’ new favourite proxy in Palestine is now Islamic Jihad, which will try to curry support by saying that Hamas has gone soft. These chaps are converting to Shia Islam in a bid to reclaim Iranian hegemony in Gaza. And Hezbollah, which is more a puppet of Iran than a mere proxy, has cast its sectarian lot with Assad by helping him kill Syrian protestors and thereby earning it the enmity of the entire Sunni Arab world.
My, how a little revolution goes a long way.
Tags: Hamas, Iran, Israel, Palestine, shi-ite, Syria

« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 11:08:36 AM by avatar »