MIDDLE EAST

Has Hamas just changed its stripes?

The Palestinian Hamas Movement recently issued a new document or charter, which it seems was not motivated by a purely internal review but rather influenced by the new political situation in the region and the world.

One of the most important points in the document is that hostility toward Jews is no longer a major pillar of its ideology like the case used to be in the past. Hamas also denied its hostility toward them and confirmed its antagonism against the occupying Zionists.

This is a major change in the ideology of the group, which is originally a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, although it avoided mentioning these strong ties to the Brotherhood in this document. In the past, however, Hamas always confirmed these relations.

Hamas accepted the 1967 borders and this is another major change but what do all these changes mean? How can they be interpreted? Why did Hamas make these changes today? Why did it now do what it hasn’t done in the past three decades? This is a moment that reveals the thinking of all political Islamist groups – the pragmatic groups that change their stripes and principles as circumstances change in order to achieve their sole goal of attaining power or maintaining it at any price.

As for the relation with Israel, Hamas’ new position can be compared to the letter which deposed President Mohammed Mursi sent to Shimon Perez addressing him as a dear and great friend. Hamas’ stance is thus an extension of that position.

The Egyptian state has now regained control and the people have completely rejected the Brotherhood. Hamas has larger interests in Egypt so it will stay away from the Brotherhood

Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi

Political rhetoric

The Brotherhood and its offshoots have often adopted a political rhetoric that accuses all states, presidents and leaders who signed peace agreements with Israel as being “infidel”. They also slammed all states, presidents and leaders who refused to be hostile toward Jews and sought peace via initiatives since the days of Camp David up until the current Arab peace initiative.

They attacked everyone and accused them of being infidels and are now pursuing that path and accepting the same goals. So is Hamas. The answer to this question reveals the scandals related to these groups. It lays bare their designs of employing religion to attain political aims, mobilizing people and inciting them to stir chaos and commit acts of terrorism.

These groups have given up on this approach now and are doing what Arab countries did. Hamas must thus accept what Fatah and the Palestinian Liberation Organization had accepted before. The accusations of infidelity, which they made for decades, have thus come to an end.

But why does Hamas want to stay away from the Brotherhood? It is because the Brotherhood has become a heavy burden on all its followers. It failed to govern Egypt and the Egyptian people and army ousted it from power. Then it chose to resort to terrorism. The Egyptian state has now regained control and the people have completely rejected the Brotherhood. Hamas has larger interests in Egypt so it will stay away from the Brotherhood.

Terror connection

The Brotherhood is also listed as a terror group in three Arab countries which are Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These countries will not accept a Brotherhood movement that divides the Palestinians and bids over the Arab countries’ choices. Hamas therefore has no choice but to dissociate itself to some extent from the Brotherhood which destroyed itself and which destroys others.

On the international level, the future seems clearer in the region as the axis of the so-called resistance, represented by the Iranian regime, the Brotherhood, the Syrian regime, the Lebanese Hezbollah group and the Hamas movement, has lost.

They have come together to murder the Syrian people in cold bold upon sectarian basis. Iran gathered militias from different countries to kill more and more people. Its schemes against various Arab Gulf countries stand exposed and its militias in Yemen will be defeated.

And finally, he who supported the Brotherhood has exited the White House. The president now is Donald Trump, and he knows well the atrocities and crimes of this evil axis. Hamas only wants to change its stripes.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 10 May 2017 KSA 11:16 - GMT 08:16
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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