Arab Spring: A Blessing for Hamas
Egypt's Mursi has put Hamas's Mashaal on an equal footing with heads of state, thus granting legitimacy not only to the Hamas leader but to its entire movement. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, has also been officially invited to the Presidential Palace in Cairo.
Hamas has good reason to be extremely happy with the "Arab Spring" that has been sweeping the Arab world for nearly two years: thanks to the "Arab Spring," Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has, for the first time ever, entered the Presidential Palace in Cairo.
Until recently, Mashaal and other Hamas leaders were considered personae non gratae [unwelcome people] in both Jordan and Egypt.
Mashaal was ousted from Syria earlier this year because he refused to support Bashar Assad in his confrontation with the opposition, which is mostly dominated by Islamists. But Mashaal knows that it is only a matter of time before the "Arab Spring" sees Islamists take control over Syria, enabling him to become a welcome guest in the presidential palace in Damascus.
Last week, however, Mashaal was invited to a meeting with newly elected Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi in the Palace of Ittihadiyah in the Egyptian capital.
Mashaal was the first Hamas representative ever to enter the palace. Prior to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak's regime, Mashaal and other Hamas leaders could only dream of the day when they would be received by an Egyptian president in his palace.
But the "Arab Spring," which had been hijacked by Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in Tunisia and Egypt, has so far proven to be a blessing for Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and now seeking to reap the fruits of the rise of Islamists to power in the Arab world.
Mashaal was invited to the Al-Ittihadiyah Palace one day after his rival, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, met with the new Egyptian president.
By meeting separately with Mashaal and Abbas, Mursi has created the impression that the Palestinians have two legitimate leaders. Even more, Mursi has put Mashaal on an equal footing with heads of state, thus granting legitimacy not only to the Hamas leader, but to his entire movement.
Also last week, the new Egyptian president surprised many Palestinians when he personally phoned a top Hamas official who had just been released from Israeli prison to offer his greetings.
Even the Hamas official, Abdel Aziz Dweik, expressed surprise at the phone call from the president of the largest Arab country.
According to Hamas sources, Mursi is also expected to meet soon with Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, who has also been officially invited to the presidential palace in Cairo.
In a move that is expected to further embolden Hamas and tighten its grip on the Gaza Strip, Mursi is said to have promised the Islamist movement to ease travel restrictions imposed on residents of the Gaza Strip
Another Arab leader who seems to be aware of the growing power of the Islamists in the Arab world is Jordan's King Abdullah.
Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood organization has already created enough trouble for the monarch. Exploiting demands for reform and democracy inspired by the "Arab Spring," some Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members are now working to undermine King Abdullah with the ultimate goal of turning the kingdom into an Islamist emirate.
The king is so worried that he recently invited Khaled Mashaal to his palace in Amman and asked him to use his good offices with Muslim Brotherhood to calm things down. King Abdullah is particularly concerned about calls by Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups to boycott parliamentary elections later this year.
The fact that the Jordanian king has to seek Hamas's help in restraining Muslim Brotherhood is a sign of the Islamist movement's increased influence in wake of the "Arab Spring."
While the "Arab Spring" has strengthened Hamas, it has at the same time dealt a severe blow to less radical Palestinians such as Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad.
Unless Abbas and Fayyad become members of Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas, the heroes of "Arab Spring" will continue to look at them as traitors and puppets in the hands of Israel and the US. The rising power of Hamas makes any talk about a peace process sound like a joke.
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by Khaled Abu Toameh
"Armed robbery in broad daylight." — Palestinians, after Hamas "seized" $750,000 from Gaza bank.
Fatah accused Hamas of "squandering" $700 million of financial aid earmarked for the Palestinian victims of war. Fatah wants to ensure that the millions of dollars intended for the Gaza Strip will pass through its hands and not end up in Hamas's bank accounts. Relying on Fatah in this regard is like asking a cat to guard the milk.
The head of the Palestinian Authority's Anti-Corruption Commission revealed that his group has retrieved $70 million of public funds fund embezzled by Palestinian officials. Arab and Western donors need to make sure that their money does not end up (once again) in the wrong hands. Without a proper mechanism of accountability and transparency, hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to find their way into the bank accounts of both Hamas and Fatah leaders.
by Mudar Zahran
"If Hamas does not like you for any reason all they have to do now is say you are a Mossad agent and kill you." — A., a Fatah member in Gaza.
"Hamas wanted us butchered so it could win the media war against Israel showing our dead children on TV and then get money from Qatar." — T., former Hamas Ministry officer.
"They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did." — D., Gazan journalist.
"Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot. That way people had to stay in their homes, even if they were about to get bombed. Hamas held the whole Gazan population as a human shield." — K., graduate student
"The Israeli army allows supplies to come in and Hamas steals them. It seems even the Israelis care for us more than Hamas." — E., first-aid volunteer.
"We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation… We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money. We miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here." — S., graduate of an American university, former Hamas sympathizer.
by Ben Cohen
Now, with the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate having captured key oil wells in the Middle East this year, foreign oil has become an even more lethal financial weapon-of-choice for those seeking to destroy democracy and further escalate the War on Terror.
That President Barack Obama failed even to mention oil as a critical factor in the war against IS during his speech to the nation on September 10, is an omission both revealing and dangerous in terms of how his administration wants to depict the stakes involved in this latest confrontation with the jihadis.
by Lawrence A. Franklin
One Pakistani recruiter of child suicide bombers describes these children as "tools provided by God."
Another Muslim cleric in a madrassa [Islamic boys' school] describes child suicide bombers as "a gift from Allah that we have an unlimited number willing to be sacrificed to teach Americans a lesson."
Using children as suicide bombers will stop when... they stop "condoning the killing of innocents."
by Denis MacEoin
"No religion condones the killing of innocents." — U.S. President Barack Obama, September 10, 2014.
"Islam is a religion of peace." — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, September 13, 2014.
"There is a place for violence in Islam. There is a place for jihad in Islam." — U.K. Imam Anjem Choudary, CBN News, April 5, 2010.
Regrettably it is impossible to re-interpret the Qur'an in a "moderate" manner. The most famous modern interpretation by Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, leads the reader again and again into political territory, where jihad is at the root of action.
If they deviated from the true faith -- as we are seeing in the Islamic State today -- "backsliders," like pagans, were to be fought until they either accepted Islam or were killed.
In India alone, between 60 and 80 million Hindus may have been put to death by Muslim armies between the years 1000-1525.