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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hamas "moderate" pushing closer religio-political alliance with Iran

From Ehud Yaari, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

For the last few months, a forty-three-page Arabic-language booklet has been emailed to Hamas activists in the Gaza Strip and to select members of the group in the West Bank and elsewhere. Titled The Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Revolution in Iran, this new publication represents the most important attempt to date to connect the growing cooperation between Hamas and its Iranian mentors to religious affinities, rather than political expediency. The argument, in essence, is that the Muslim Brotherhood -- with Hamas as its Palestinian branch -- is a natural partner of Iran, with which it shares a common set of values and a joint vision of the revival of the caliphate, despite the divide that historically separates Sunnis from Shiites and often sets them against each other.

Subtitled The Dialectic of State and Nation in the Thought of the Imams al-Banna and Khomeini, the booklet is not being sold openly in stores. The preface was written by Dr. Muhammad al-Hindi, the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, who warns that "enemies of the nation" are trying to exploit the Sunni-Shiite rift in order to sabotage the struggle for an Islamic state. The booklet's author, sixty-year-old Dr. Ahmed Yousef, is a well-known movement leader who now holds the title of Foreign Ministry director-general in Gaza's Hamas government.

Yousef is widely recognized as one of the main spokesmen for the more moderate wing of Hamas. ...It is, in fact, his reputation as a "moderate" that makes Yousef's recent contribution both interesting and meaningful. He explains that Hamas's dependence on Iran is not an accidental marriage of convenience, as is often claimed by other movement leaders, but an inevitable partnership based on the common aspiration for the divine ideal of the "Islamic State."
He concludes:
Hamas's military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is well known for its close ties with Iran. Now Yousef, one of the military wing's most outspoken critics, is trying to redefine Hamas's relationship with Iran as a strategic alliance rooted in a similar interpretation of contemporary political Islam. Hamas is seeking a religious justification for its dependence on the Islamic Republic, beyond the political requirements. Yousef, in fact, attempts to rewrite the history of Hamas-Iran relations over the last six decades so that partnership becomes a duty for true believers. No doubt Yousef had the blessing of others in Hamas's top echelon before he published his study -- a clear signal that the movement is rapidly distancing itself from the Saudis and other traditional benefactors in order to strengthen its pact with Iran. If so, we should not expect any shifts in the organization's positions on peace and the further strengthening of ties with Iran and its allies, Syria and Hizballah. Given its efforts to move closer to Iran, Hamas is very unlikely to make more than a mere pretense of reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority.
It is no secret that both the Islamic Republic of Iran and the offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood (which include Hamas and Al-Qaeda) desire a return to an Islamic caliphate, a pan-Islamic 'umma that would stretch across much of Africa, Asia and Europe. Western analysts have geenrally been so hung up on Shi'ite/Sunni divisions as to not notice that despite those differences, there is enough in common to allow a serious alliance between the two sides against the West.

(h/t SoccerDad)