It is time for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood to separate
An open letter from Egypt to Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal
In 2010, I visited Gaza and met with Ismail Haniyeh and in 2012, I visited Qatar and met Khaled Meshaal.
After the glorious June 30, 2013 revolution, I met President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo. Before that and also after it, I met a number of prominent Palestinian figures. We talked about both Egyptian and Palestinian developments. It’s currently more important than ever to restore the status of the Palestinian cause which the Arab Spring cast aside. If it hadn’t been for the powerful speech which Egyptian Interim President Adly Mansour delivered in Kuwait, in which he emphasized that the Palestinian cause was and is still the central cause in the region, the cause would have sunk to the bottom of the list of priorities.
I think the Hamas movement bears great responsibility for the harm done against the Palestinian cause. The formula of struggle under Hamas has turned from “Palestine against Israel” to “Palestine against Palestine.”
Hamas’ reactions against anything that’s not linked to it or to the Brotherhood have become more than reactions against Israel. Hamas criticizes Abbas more than it criticizes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The campaign against Fatah policies is fiercer than that against “Israel’s prison.” Tunnels turned from ways to struggle against the Israeli system to mere “trade” routes and Palestinian people turned from “people with a cause” to mere “truck owners” and from “fighters” to “smugglers.”
I hope that Hamas won’t be on the wrong side of history or stand against the army which fought the Mongols, the Crusaders and the IsraelisAhmed al-Muslemany
After Hamas attacked the Camp David Accords, which allow for the Egyptian army’s presence in Sinai, it’s become a supporter of emptying Sinai of the Egyptian army!
The political scene has seen the fall of Arab armies, and there’s a campaign led by an alliance of “agents” and “ignorant people” against the Egyptian army - the only remaining power of a nation in crisis. Meanwhile, Israel resumes its international campaign to “Judaize the country.”
Considering the givens, I thought I would direct a letter to Mr. Khaled Meshaal, head of the Hamas Movement and chief of its political bureau. It’s a warning letter that comes at a critical time.
A warning letter
I know well the challenges your movement is confronting after traits of resistance were replaced with characteristics of authority. Then, there was the psychological shock that pained you after the rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. I also know that residing in Syria, the misery of residing in Qatar and the possibility of residing in Iran are all pressurizing factors on “the politician” and “the human” alike. I also know that your friends and men in the movement are not alike. Some work for themselves and some work for people other than you. Some don’t want land or a state and don’t want to liberate al-Aqsa as much as they want to attain fame and money.
You are the head of a movement which, as fate had it, is our neighbor and which turned out to be a bad neighbor so it abandoned the case of Jerusalem and took on the case of Egypt. Some say: “we have nothing to do with this. This is a baseless propaganda campaign.” And some say: “the current regime in Egypt is making wrong accusations against us and is avenging the Brotherhood via us.”
I tell you this, security forces in our country have documents which prove that members of your movement are involved in sabotaging acts in Egypt. They also confirm there’s cooperation between Hamas and “Salafist jihadists” which were yesterday’s enemies - cooperation for the sake of breaking the Egyptian control of Sinai. Perhaps you remember when Sheikh Abel-Latif Moussa and his aides of “Salafist jihadists” tried to topple your regime after accusing you of infidelity and after declaring a state in Gaza of which Moussa was the emir. Your movement’s decision was to kill the sheikh and his supporters and to raid their mosque. Bodies piled up in the mosque’s courtyard so you could protect your authority from any competitor or partner.
Today, some of you some of you take on a different attitude to what you took on yesterday, and accept a situation for us that you would not accept for yourselves. You know - and so did the Brotherhood in Egypt - that distance between you and Salafist jihadism (propagated by al-Qaeda and groups linked to it) is further than the distance between you and the civil movement. “You” and “they” have never been in one boat. They fought you in Afghanistan and they fought you in Palestine. Just as they accused you of infidelity and tried to crush you in Gaza, they killed Ahmad Shah Massoud and Burhanuddin Rabbani in Afghanistan. It’s the formula I explained in my book “The Revolution’s Fall:” it’s “jihad against jihad” and “mujahideen against mujahideen.”
I ask you today, what has changed? How do you fight them in Palestine and Afghanistan and ally with them in Sinai? Dear Mr. Meshaal, you’ve lost the path and your movement’s goals are now to protect your authority in Gaza and to search for luxurious countries to reside in.
The movement’s ideology has been torn apart as supporters of Shiites and supporters of Sunnis, as well as supporters of Syria, supporters of Qatar and supporters of Iran all have divergent aims. They are all supporters of everything but Palestine!
When I follow up on the statements of the political bureau and of the leaders of Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades and the wings inside and outside Gaza, I ask that famous political question: Who governs Hamas? In Doha, I heard you commend Omar Suleiman and the Egyptian intelligence, both before and after Suleiman governed it. You made clear statements that during the eras of Hosni Mubarak and the military council, we were totally supportive of your movement and of the Palestinian cause. This meant that the Egyptian state had a constant stance regarding Palestine and the Palestinians. But everything changed when Mohammad Mursi assumed power. Hamas started to speak as if history began with the Muslim Brotherhood and as if everything that came before was invalid.
At this point, I remember what I read about the Brotherhood’s heroic acts during Palestinian wars. I once asked my father, who was a member of the Brotherhood: Why don’t you talk about the Egyptians’ heroism? Why do you only talk about the Brotherhood’s heroism? Why do the other people talk about the Egyptian army in Palestinian wars while you only talk about the Brotherhood? If you are fighters, then the number of Egyptian fighters who weren’t Brotherhood members were many times your number and the number of their heroic acts were many times your number of heroic acts. Most of them did not brag and those who did brag always said their country was confronting the enemy. So why does the Brotherhood record a history for itself by putting the country’s history in the backseat?
A policy review
Dear Mr. Meshaal,
it’s time for your movement to conduct a bold intellectual review, even if this leads to the defection of some opportunistic people we both know. Hamas previously knew its size, role and aims and submitted to President Yasser Arafat, and its dignified sheikh, martyr, Ahmad Yassine worked in public and in secrecy with the Palestinian Liberation Organization to coordinate and organize work. Hamas was once aware that the battle was with Israel and not with Fatah or Cairo and that its loyalty is to establish a state and not support the guidance office. Now, Hamas seems to have lost its path and seems to have entered a phase of confusion.
The intellectual review which Hamas needs must include a decisive vision of the Palestinian cause. When I met with former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov in Malta few years ago, he told me: “your stance is that of former President Anwar al-Sadat’s stance regarding the June 4, 1967 borders...but you tell our people in Palestine what you don’t tell politicians in the world.”
The review must include a decisive stance in favor of the June 30 revolution in Egypt. All confusion must be cleared and all Hamas members accused of supporting terrorism in Egypt must be handed over to be held accountable and punished. The review must also include complete separation from the Muslim Brotherhood and the international organization. Separation from the Brotherhood and being open to reconciliation with Fatah and Palestinian society, as well as putting your country’s cause above that of your allies’ interests, are the only means to restore the message lost with Sheikh Yassine’s absence. President Adly Mansour was frank and decisive when he said: “The Hamas Movement has committed many mistakes when it involved itself in Egyptian politics by supporting the Brotherhood. Clearing the air between Egypt and Hamas requires ending this and respecting Egyptian sovereignty.”
Mr. Meshaal, you know that political Islam groups outside Palestine have always used the cause to serve their aims and those photos of al-Aqsa mosque used during their ceremonies only aim to support their image and strengthen their status.
And you know that Muslim Brotherhood students have always burnt Israeli and American flags in the campus of Cairo University and Egyptian universities. And you also know that this never happened since the January 25 revolution which helped the political rise of the Brotherhood. Perhaps you’re following up on the events of Egyptian universities and the Brotherhood’s attempt to establish a movement akin to the Taliban in Egypt. It’s certain you haven’t heard or seen the names and photos of “Palestine” or al-Aqsa mosque, in their political activity.
Finally, I addressed you due to the amiability between us and with good intentions. I hope you can save Hamas from Hamas and that you can save Palestine from some of the Palestinians and that Hamas won’t be on the wrong side of history or stand against the army which fought the Mongols, the Crusaders and the Israelis.
This article was first published in el-Fagr on April 14, 2014.
Ahmed al-Muslemany is a presidential spokesman and media advisor to Egyptian Interim-President Adly Mansour. Previously, Muslemany was a journalist and TV presenter, hosting a daily news analysis show on Egyptian and Middle Eastern current affairs.
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