Is Hamas Losing Power?
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The only way to undermine Hamas is by offering the Palestinians a better alternative to Hamas. Many Palestinians do not regard Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah as a better alternative to the radical Islamist movement.
Recent developments on a number of fronts in the Middle East suggest that Hamas is beginning to lose both power and popularity among Arabs and Muslims.
Of course this is good new for moderate Arabs and Muslims, as well as for stability in the region.
This change does not, however, mean that Hamas will vanish sometime in the near future. Nor does it mean that peace will prevail tomorrow between between Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Israel.
The only way to undermine Hamas is by offering the Palestinians a better alternative to Hamas. Many Palestinians still do not regard Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction as a better alternative to the radical Islamist movement.
In recent weeks and months, Hamas has found itself embroiled in a number of local and regional disputes that seem to have had a negative impact on its standing among Palestinians and Arabs.
After losing the backing of Iran and Syria because of its support for the rebels fighting against the regime of Bashar Assad, Hamas has now lost its key supporter and financier in the Arab world, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar.
Khalifa's decision to hand powers to his son, Sheikh Tamim, has left many Hamas leaders worried about the future relations between their movement and Qatar.
Noting that Qatar had long embraced and supported Hamas, leaders of the movement voiced hope that Sheik Tamim would follow in the footsteps of his father.
Under Hamad bin Khalifa, Qatar was the first Arab country to receive Hamas leaders after they were expelled from Jordan by the late King Hussein in the late 1990's.
Khalifa was also the first Arab ruler to visit the Gaza Strip earlier this year and offer hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Hamas government.
Hamas leaders said this week that they are now not sure whether the new ruler of Qatar will fulfill his father's financial pledges.
Meanwhile, Hamas seems to have gotten itself into trouble with many Egyptians, who accuse the movement of meddling in their internal affairs.
Egyptian media reports and politicians say Hamas has been dispatching weapons and gunmen to Egypt to support Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, who is facing growing discontent at home.
When Hamas leaders visited Cairo last week, they were forced to flee the hotel where they were staying after hundreds of angry Egyptian demonstrators protested their presence on Egyptian soil.
Hamas's support for the anti-Assad rebels in Syria has also resulted in a crisis between the movement and the Iranian-backed terror group Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Some Lebanese have accused Hamas of arming anti-Assad radical Islamists and setting up terror cells in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
Unconfirmed reports said that Hizbullah has asked Hamas leaders based in Beirut to leave the country.
Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, this week made a secret visit to Beirut in a bid to defuse tensions between his movement and Hizbullah.
Hamas is also facing many problems at home.
Hamas's relations with other terror groups in the Gaza Strip have also recently witnessed a serious deterioration.
The Islamic Jihad organization decided this week to sever ties with Hamas over the death of a top Jihad operative, Raed Jundiyeh.
Jundiyeh was killed when Hamas policemen tried to arrest him last weekend, sparking a sharp crisis between the two parties.
In addition, Hamas has been forced to deal with Al-Qaeda-affiliated Salafi followers who think that the Hamas leadership is not radical enough, especially with regards to imposing strict Islamic laws and fighting the "Zionist enemy."
Hamas officials admit that all these these developments have had a negative impact on their movement's standing among Palestinians and Arabs.
Hamas's failure to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has also driven away an increased number of Palestinians -- in addition to reports about fierce internal squabbling among Hamas's top brass and the absence of a unified policy toward many controversial issues plaguing the Palestinians and the Arab world.
In a move reflecting Hamas's growing predicament, the movement was forced this week to welcome Palestinian singer Mohamed Assaf, who won the popular Arab Idol contest held by Saudi Arabia's MBC TV station.
Although Hamas leaders have condemned the contest as "anti-Islamic" and "morally corrupt," they were forced to voice their support for the 23-year-old Assaf in the wake of the overwhelming and unprecedented support he received from Palestinians.
When Hamas leaders begin to "sweat," it should be seen as a positive development in the Palestinian arena. It now remains to be seen whether Palestinians will take advantage of the situation and turn against Hamas.
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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.
by Yaakov Lappin
Hamas's long-term ambitions are indistinguishable from those of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Hamas will now focus on its next goal -- trying to strengthen its presence in the West Bank and eventually toppling the Palestinian Authority from power there, just as it did in Gaza. If Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, Hamas would certainly find such a goal easier to accomplish.
Nothing keeps the flames of jihad alight, and Hamas's popularity secure, like frequent wars.