Hamas is in trouble. Its relations with Egypt are going from bad to worse, and the influx of money, primarily from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the mosques in the Western world -- where charity (zakat) was collected to finance anti-Israel terrorism -- has dwindled to almost nothing. So has the flow of arms and explosives from Iran, Libya, Sudan and Lebanon. The resulted is the weakening of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, making it ever more difficult for Hamas to continue its ongoing subversion of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and its non-stop attempts to overthrow President Mahmoud Abbas to take over the West Bank and establish there the sort of Islamic emirate it established in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas's military buildup was halted when the President Mohamed Morsi's radical Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt was toppled and General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was elected President. Morsi, it will be recalled, strangely received support from President Obama until he was ousted. The Obama administration supported him despite Morsi enabling for the flow of money and arms to Hamas in Gaza to continue unhampered through the tunnels in the Sinai Peninsula. The weapons were used not only to attack Israel, but also to sabotage peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and, indirectly, to attack the Palestinian Authority.
The Islamist terrorism festivities ended when President el-Sisi clamped down on the Islamists in Egypt, destroyed the tunnels and sealed Egypt's border with Gaza. Since el-Sisi has been president of Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood rule has ended and the tunnels have been destroyed. It is hard to fathom why, to this day, the Obama administration mourns the fall of the Islamist Morsi administration and turns a cold shoulder to forward-looking el-Sisi, who is (sometimes) trying to take Egypt into the 21st century and extricate Egypt from its economic and societal crisis.
Since el-Sisi has been in power, money and arms no longer flow through the tunnels into the Gaza Strip; instead they began to flow in the opposite direction, from the Gaza Strip into Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Since the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated terrorist organizations, Hamas among them, have not accepted defeat, there has been an increase in terrorist attacks targeting the Egyptian regime both inside the country proper and in the Sinai Peninsula. The terrorist campaign receives ongoing support from the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military-terrorist wing, and the ISIS-affiliated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. Both continuously attack the Egyptian police and army in the Sinai Peninsula, murder Egyptian officials and target Egyptian institutions.
The endless terrorist campaign in Egypt has proven yet again that the claim of a political Islam, separate from the terrorist organizations, is simply a lie. Muslim Brotherhood terrorism against the Egyptian regime is a perfect example of how the "political movement" tries to represent itself as dealing only with the da'wah [proselytizing], while in reality it is a terrorist movement whose objective is the violent overthrow of el-Sisi's administration. The White House, fully aware of the facts, continues hosting senior Muslim Brotherhood officials and shows them respect during consultations about the American Islamic community and U.S. policy in the Middle East.
The events in the Sinai Peninsula prove there is no such thing as "political Islam." There is a radical Islamist leadership that represents itself to the gullible West as "moderate," preaches violence from the mosques, cloaks itself in ideological-religious tradition, and employs a hard core of Islamist terrorists to carry out attacks on civilians and Egyptian administration targets.
In the meantime, the real victims are the Egyptians. The Muslim Brotherhood's terrorism has paralyzed Egypt's tourist industry, as foreigners fear to visit Egypt's antiquities. And now there are terrorist threats to the New Suez Canal, a project initiated and carried out under the leadership of General Sisi to turn both banks of the two canals into an international logistics, commercial and industrial area.
The Islamists' plans are clear. First, they want to leverage violence, murder and countless Egyptian army casualties into establishing an autonomous terrorist enclave in the Sinai Peninsula. Then they will try to overthrow the Egyptian government and reinstate an Islamist Muslim Brotherhood regime headed by Morsi. That is exactly what their offshoot, Hamas, did in the Gaza Strip when it liquidated Palestinian Authority officials and established an Islamic emirate. The writing on the wall is still illegible as far as the U.S. government is concerned. Or else the Obama administration is still in the thrall of extremist Islam and its Muslim Brotherhood leaders. The two main ones are Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has just called new elections so that he can try again to acquire enough seats in parliament to amend Turkey's constitution to award himself a one-man Sultanate, an absolute dictatorship-for-life to go along with his new palace. The other is Mohamed Morsi, whom Obama apparently is still backing.
It is hard not to conclude, looking at the U.S. president's record (ignoring the protesters of 2009 in Iran; "I've got a pen, and I've got a phone" and the dictatorial way the Iran deal has been short-circuited to bypass the democratic process) that in his heart-of-hearts, he is far more committed to supporting extremist Islamist regimes -- whether the mullahs of Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood -- than to supporting democracy, individual freedoms or human rights.
The Europeans are more aware of the situation but unfortunately woke up too late. As hundreds of thousands of migrants from Muslim lands continue to pour over Europe's open borders, there is little doubt that radical Islam is poised to take over the West. Islamic communities and terrorist cells continue to mushroom and gather strength throughout the cities of Europe.
From the beginning of the wave of attacks in Egypt, senior Egyptian security officials threatened Hamas. Egypt warned Hamas to stop training, arming and sending its terrorists to collaborate with ISIS operatives in attacks against the Egyptian army. Hamas steadfastly denies any involvement, even as it continues collaborating with ISIS against Egypt.
As far as Hamas is concerned, destroying the Egyptian army is essential, because its continued actions along the Rafah border and in Sheikh Zuweid in the northern Sinai Peninsula prevent Hamas from acquiring money and stockpiling weapons to fight Israel, which weakens its subversion against Mahmoud Abbas and its plans to take over the West Bank.
Despite profuse denials, at the end of August 2015, four operatives from Hamas's military-terrorist wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, were taken off a bus by armed Egyptians on the way from Rafah through the Sinai Peninsula to Cairo. Hamas immediately accused Israeli intelligence of responsibility and warned the Egyptian authorities that "the abduction of its operatives will not go unpunished."
In response, Dina Ramez, a co-host on Egypt's official TV station, called Hamas out on its lies and denials of its terrorist activities in the Sinai Peninsula against the Egyptian regime. She asked Hamas, "If you are not involved in terrorism, what were your senior Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives doing in Sinai?" and called them "cockroaches."
Sources in Hamas called her a "whore," and called Egypt a loser country defeated by Israel, using a peace treaty to sell Palestine to the enemy. Was that really the way to thank Egypt for everything it has done for the Palestinians, sacrificing its army and soldiers for us? It is a sad situation for the Palestinians and for our leadership.
What have we Palestinians gained from Hamas's military actions against Egypt? What have we gained from our solidarity with Islamist organizations fighting against Assad in Syria, or joining organizations such as the "Palestinian Liberation Army" fighting for Assad? Why are we killing each other in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp? Why do we refuse everything the Israelis offer us?
Anyone who remembers history remembers the ungrateful path trodden by the Palestinians against the Kingdom of Jordan, when our leaders, headed by Arafat, tried in 1970 to overthrow King Hussein, despite the refuge Jordan offered us during the catastrophes of the Nakba in 1948 and the Naksa in 1967. Then we did the same thing in Lebanon, to where we fled from Jordan. The PLO relocated its headquarters to Beirut, and went on to turn Lebanon into a terrorist country and the lives of the Lebanese into a nightmare. If the Israelis had not invaded Lebanon in 1982, and forced the PLO to relocate to Tunisia (where its behavior was also criminal), the Palestinians definitely would have destroyed Lebanon.
The Middle East is in chaos, and Palestinian factionalism and ingratitude continue to inflame the dissolution of the Arab states and the internal Palestinian division between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
The world is beginning to understand that the catastrophes of the Middle East have nothing to do with the resolution of the Palestinian issue, but are caused by the innate homicidal tendencies of the Arab rulers and the regional Islamist terrorist organizations.
The only person left who believes the Israeli-Palestinian nonsense is President Barack Obama, even though he is witness to the murders, rapes, beheadings and the millions of refugees, next to which the Palestinian issue is an old, irrelevant and very tired joke.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.