Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hamas caught between rock and a hard place on Syria

Palestine Press Agency has published an analysis saying that Hamas has been cornered by the Syrian uprising.

On the one hand, Hamas has had a patron in Damascus, having moved its headquarters there from Jordan in 1999.  It has tried to be low-key about the uprising, sitting on the fence and not saying much.

However, Hamas cannot publicly support a nation that is killing Palestinian Arabs.

Fatah has seized on the Latakia attacks, publicly calling it a "crime against humanity." Hamas, however, remained silent.

In fact, as I mentioned earlier, a rally in Gaza against the Syrian regime resulted in a number of arrests by Hamas plainclothes policemen - and they arrested a journalist covering the rally as well.

There have been rumors that Hamas is looking to relocate its headquarters again, to Qatar or Turkey.

The New York Times briefly mentioned this conundrum today:
Syria has long given residence to Palestinian factions opposed to Mr. Abbas, including Hamas and some splinter Palestinian groups, and many Palestinians recall Syria’s decision to intervene decisively against them in 1976 during the Lebanese civil war. So far, Hamas has sought to avoid alienating the government in Damascus while stopping short of statements of support, like those from Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim movement and, even more pronounced, the allied Amal movement in Lebanon. In a pro-Hamas newspaper in Gaza, a columnist criticized the ferocity of the Syrian crackdown.

Now that Palestinian Arabs have become victims of Syria's assault, Hamas' fence-sitting position is looking less tenable. Palestinian Arabs are very upset over Syria and Hamas cannot remain supportive of the regime - no matter how lukewarm that support is.

(h/t David G, CHA)