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Seizing the al-Aqsa Mosque minbar started the war!

Mohammed al-Saed

Published: Updated:

Last Friday’s developments at the Al-Qibli Mosque called al-Aqsa Mosque, one day after the ceasefire between the State of Israel and Hamas organization took place, encapsulates the roots of the bloody ten-day conflict that caused hundreds of deaths and injuries, raising the question: Was the price worth Hamas’s uncalculated adventure?

Although many hid behind the Sheikh Jarrah incident, there was a lot more to it than that. Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, the closest to the conflict, was completely aware of Hamas's intentions, as far as the Arab and international communities, behind launching this unexpected war and reinforcing it with thousands of victims.

Abbas knew that Hamas did not build a Via Dolorosa from Gaza to Sheikh Jarrah for the purpose of saving the neighborhood, nor exposing Israel's tyranny, nor establishing a parallel deterrence. They had purely dynamic political goal, which is to replace the legitimate authority in Ramallah with Hamas.

Hamas’s showy and delusional power, manifested by their tin missiles, was not able to alter the equation, nor could the casualties convince the international community to replace Mahmoud Abbas with Khaled Meshaal and Ismail Haniyeh. It was a purely bloody agenda, with more far-reaching political consequences, that led both the Arab and international communities to hold on to Abbas and his authority, despite their many shortcomings.

This takes us back to the time Saddam Hussein flaunted his ability to wipe out Israel and fired his missiles to prove it, only to end up signing a humiliating surrender agreement in Safwan Tent.

Hamas's intentions slipped out of their leaders’ mouths either foolishly or enthusiastically, call it what you may, when Haniyeh and Meshaal announced they expect the confrontations to result in Hamas's domination of the Palestinian decision-making and their replacement of Abbas. It is the same logic the Houthis used when they turned against the Yemeni legitimacy, believing that taking over Yemeni government missiles and conquering the capital Sana'a will pressure the international community into recognizing them instead of Hadi's government.

Dominating the Palestinian decision-making, called for by Meshaal and Haniyeh, will not be limited to seizing the political decision, it entails the takeover of the Minbar of the al-Aqsa Mosque with all its symbolism and implications.

Being the President of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas, and his Ministry of Endowments, are the ones authorized to oversee al-Aqsa. Being fully aware of Hamas’s agenda, Abbas has predicted the scenario of a coup against him in the West Bank, and in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Sure enough, Hamas mobilized all its force and pushed its supporters inside the mosque demanding the imam abandon the pulpit and replace him with their own, all while chanting treason and espionage accusations of Abbas. It was a clear attempt to highjack the pulpit and kidnap the imam and appoint one who is a Hamas affiliate instead.

Highjacking or seizing the pulpit has its far-reaching non-Palestinian goals, which intersect with a larger project than Jerusalem, Gaza, and Palestine. As Hamas chief Zahar once said: “Palestine is worth nothing compared to the greater international project”. A project through which Hamas operates under the auspices of the Muslim Brotherhood to establish a new Ottoman Sultanate called a "caliphate", one that cannot stand its ground without the Two Holy Mosques which are undisputedly under Saudi sovereignty.

All this created the need for creating a new religious legitimacy, even if it was fraudulent, one that Erdogan, Haniyeh, Meshaal and Khamenei think is under the pulpit of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, provided it becomes a Hamas affiliated one day.

Erdogan, who has recently softened his speech towards Saudi Arabia, has not abandoned his dream of running al-Aqsa through Hamas instead of Jordan, as we saw happen in Libya and northern Syria, so he could seize the false legitimacy of the so-called "caliphate", making al-Aqsa, which holds a high Islamic symbolism, his temporary alternative until he launches his greater international project of controlling the whole Muslim world.

Although the battle ended and Hamas was defeated and al-Aqsa remained in the hands of Palestinians who do not owe allegiance to Turkey, the danger still remains.

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