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By Barry Rubin

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group which rules the Gaza Strip and has been moving toward a partnership with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party, has openly proclaimed itself the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

This development took place during the visit to Cairo of Hamas’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. It should be remembered that Hamas not only calls for Israel’s destruction but for genocide against Jews generally. It was Haniyeh’s first trip abroad since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007.

In meeting Haniyeh at the Brotherhood’s new headquarters’ building, the Brotherhood’s leader Muhammad al-Badi, said that Hamas had been a role model for the Brotherhood. While this might be mere flattery it might be noted that Hamas first won an election, then went into a coalition with a “more moderate” partner (Fatah), and then staged a coup to seize complete power. That’s an interesting precedent for Badi to cite.

Haniyeh described Hamas as the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood. Referring to their alliance Haniyeh said, “Our presence with the Brotherhood threatens the Israeli entity.” It certainly does since Hamas will enjoy the Brotherhood’s full support in its anti-Israel activities including the use of violence and, probably, in the event of any future war with Israel.

Since the Brotherhood will be the main party in parliament that also expresses Egyptian policy, however circumscribed it might be by the army and by a non-Brotherhood president. Of course, there might be a Brotherhood president, too.

The Egyptian Brotherhood now leads an umbrella organization that includes Hamas; the Syrian and Jordanian Brotherhoods in opposition; the ruling party in Tunisia; the potential ruling party in Libya; and branches that dominate many Muslim communities in Europe and North America.

That’s an impressive situation for a group that we have been told is weak. We are now seeing how we have also been wrongly told that it is moderate.

Two other points.

1. Jon Alterman, director of Middle East studies at the CSIS think tank in Washington has a New York Times op-ed which is the first sign of the foreign policy establishment waking up. He writes:

“American interests, however, call for a different outcome, one that finds a balance — however uneasy — between the military authorities and Egypt’s new politicians. We do not want any one side to vanquish or silence the other.:

In other words, forget about the liberals and bashing the army, the military has to balance the Islamists or else it will be a disaster.

2. The deputy leader of the Brotherhood, Rashad Bayoumi, said the Brotherhood will never recognize Israel: “This is not an option at all, whatever the circumstances, we do not recognize Israel at all. Israel is an occupying criminal enemy.” Have no doubt that his problem is that Israel is “occupying” the territory of Israel itself. Can one have peace with a “criminal enemy”?

Line of the day, Syrian oppositionist Ammar Abdulhamid on the Arab League monitors, who in some cases have turned out to be apologists for the repressive regime:

“Syrian protesters were doing a great job documenting their own suffering and dying, they really did not need help doing that. What they need is international protection, and the Arab League monitors are not providing it.”

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and Middle East editor and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/. His latest books include Israel: An Introduction (Yale, 2012); The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). 

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