The Arab world as a whole has not yet formulated a clear position on the events in Gaza. While the Arab countries fully backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his struggle against Hamas, spokesmen and senior officials have refrained from burning bridges with Hamas.
The same trend is evident in the Arab media. Most articles avoided siding clearly with either Fatah or Hamas, calling on both sides to reach an understanding through negotiations. However, some op-eds in the press have harshly condemned Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip, saying that it has dealt a death blow to the Palestinian cause and has destroyed any hope of resolving the Palestinian problem. In them, the writers accuse Iran and Syria of direct involvement in the Gaza coup, which they say serves these countries' interests. They also expressed concern that the emergence of what they termed the "Hamas Islamic Emirate" would threaten the entire Arab world.
The following are excerpts from op-eds critical of Hamas in the Arab press:
Hamas Has Buried the Palestinian Cause and Has Become Its Enemy
In the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, columnist Makram Muhammad Ahmad wrote: "Hamas has seized power in Gaza for a while, but it has dealt a death blow to the Palestinian cause, and buried it - God only knows for how long. [By taking over Gaza, it has] isolated the Strip from the West Bank - something Israel has wanted to do for a long time, and now Hamas has handed it [this achievement] on a silver platter.
"[The Gaza coup] has also dashed any hopes of reaching a peace agreement in the foreseeable future, because Hamas has supplied Israel with evidence to back up its claim that there is no Palestinian partner [for negotiations], since Fatah and Hamas are busy with their civil war and have no time for this issue."(1)
Talal Salman, owner of the Lebanese daily Al-Safir, wrote: "Palestine has collapsed in a pool of its own blood, and the only ones to blame are those who promised to liberate it. [The Palestinians] have nearly lost their homeland, and the only ones to blame are those who wielded weapons in order to wrench it from the enemy, but have lost their way. The fedayeen have become the murderers of their own comrades-in-arms...
"The Palestinians have become an example of [a nation] in ruins that has lost its [national] rights. Some of them have taken to characterizing others as criminals and as being outside [the boundaries of] law and legitimacy. The Palestinians have become the enemies of Palestine, and have granted a victory to their [real] enemy - the enemy of the Arabs, of the Muslims, and of the Christians - namely, Israel. There is close competition between the Palestinians and the Iraqis over which will be the first to bring his country back to the era prior to the [emergence] of the [modern] state, and perhaps to the era prior to [the emergence of] tribes, clans, and families - or even to the era before [the advent of] Islam and the other religions."(2)
Iran and Syria Are Behind the Gaza Coup
In an op-ed titled "The Gaza Earthquake," Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor Tariq Al-Humayd wrote: "The preparedness of the Hamas fighters... proves that while Hamas and its leaders were crying out about lack of funds, Hamas was [actually] amassing arms and ammunition. Someone is providing it with regular funding, and as a result it appeared to be better prepared [for fighting] than the legitimate authorities.
"The source of the funds is obviously Iran. Today, no one has control over Hamas... except Iran, its economic patron, and Syria, where Khaled Mash'al resides. The tangled threads [that pass through] the entire Arab region lead to two countries only - Syria and Iran..."(3)
Ahmad Al-Jarallah, editor of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, wrote: "By means of Hamas's takeover in Gaza, the Iran-Syria axis has managed to destroy the Mecca agreement, to sabotage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and to block the role of Saudi Arabia, which had become the regional authority [handling] the hotspots in the [Middle East], namely Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine...
"In giving up its national Palestinian aspirations and succumbing to the policies of the Iranian-Syrian axis, Hamas has become like those gangs of spies who habitually serve foreign interests. Hamas is booby-trapping Palestinian society with destructive ideas, such as the Iranian [principle of] "the rule of the jurisprudent" and [other Iranian] ideological concepts...
"In this case, Hamas has become like Hizbullah in Lebanon. Both [movements] have no national will [of their own], but only blind commitment to the agendas of Iran and Syria - even if it brings down the Palestinian home on the heads of [its people]..."(4)
Jordanian journalist Raja Talib wrote in the Jordanian government daily Al-Rai: "Reality has shown that even if Hamas was originally a Palestinian [movement], it is now completely [committed] to the ideological agenda of Tehran - in terms of its perception of the enemy and of the struggle against the enemy; in terms of its political priorities; and in terms of its financial and material backing. Thus, Hamas is setting back - by decades - the Palestinian cause, the development of the military and political struggle [for Palestine], and the PLO plan [for liberating Palestine], so that they will [all] serve Iran's needs."(5)
In Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, former Kuwaiti education minister Ahmad Al-Ruba'i criticized Iran's and Syria's support of Hamas, and said that the current horrors in Gaza reminded him of scenes from the 1948 war:
"We should not be surprised if Khaled Mash'al soon holds a press conference in Damascus or Tehran to announce the liberation of the West Bank. [After all,] the man has extensive connections in the region, and the Hamas movement enjoys economic and logistic concessions in the region.
"Don't be surprised if he declares a 'divine victory' in all the [occupied] territories, unites the two Palestinian states, and is elected as the new Palestinian president. [Then], he will perhaps transfer some of the Iranian nuclear facilities to Ramallah and emulate the Biblical Samson, [who said] 'Let me die with the Philistines.'
"The sight of Palestinian mothers leaving [the Gaza Strip] with their children [via] the Erez crossing... is the same sight as that of Palestinian mothers and their children leaving the Nahr Al-Bared camp [in northern Lebanon], and is the same sight as that of the Palestinian mothers and their children who were obliged to leave their villages and homes after the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948."(6)
The Islamic Emirate of Gaza Threatens the Entire Arab World
In his op-ed "The Gaza Earthquake," Tariq Al-Humayd wrote: "What is happening in Gaza, and the emergence of the Hamas's Islamic emirate there, can only be described as an earthquake, and not only for the Palestinians... The impact of this Islamic emirate on our Arab world will not be like that [caused by] the emergence of the Taliban Emirate, [for] it is more dangerous, to the point where it will [threaten] Arab security.
"It is well known that the Islamist streams do not believe in the concept of a state, and that their battle against the Arab regimes is a long-term battle... The Hamas emirate will be a source of spiritual inspiration for Islamist groups [in the region], and a meeting point for everyone interested in armed activities..."(7)
Egyptian intellectual Ma'moun Fandy likened Hamas to a computer virus that threatens to destroy the Arab world. He wrote in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "The Muslims must understand that the Hamas emirate is a model that the Islamists aim to implant in all their countries. [They want] all our countries to become two-headed entities, with Islamist rule [alongside] the rule of the state. All the Arab countries that are riding two horses at once - the national one and the Islamist one - will inevitably reach a crossroads at which each horse will go in a different direction. The two legs [on which the country stands] will split, and the country will split in two, [as is now happening with the Palestinians:] one leg in Gaza, and the other in the West Bank.
"To use a metaphor from the programming world, the Arab region is like a computer with 22 directories, symbolizing the 22 [Arab] countries. If a virus attacks one of the directories, the programmer must delete that directory [along with] the virus, lest the virus infect the other directories and destroy the entire computer.
"We are now faced with a dangerous virus, in the form of the Hamas Emirate. A [previous] symptom of this infection was Hizbullah in Lebanon, and we see some signs of it in Egypt and Algeria as well - especially since the mother virus, the Muslim Brotherhood, has existed in Egypt for ages, in all its potency..."(8)
Endnotes: (1) Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 17, 2007.
(2) Al-Safir (Lebanon), June 15, 2007.
(3) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 16, 2007.
(4) Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), June 18, 2007.
(5) Al-Rai (Jordan), June 18, 2007.
(6) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 18, 2007.
(7) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 16, 2007.
(8) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 18, 2007.
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