Many Middle East analysts point to Tehran as the power behind the Hamas throne. If the flow of Iranian money and weapons could be cut off, they believe, Hamas would wither and die.
But Hamas does not rely that heavily on Iran. It needs Iran’s weaponry and training, but it also receives substantial financial support from Qatar and other Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, as well as from individual deep pockets throughout the Arab world. During the Hajj, for example, (the annual season for pilgrimage to Mecca, November 14-18 this year) Hamas fundraisers, including exiled leader Khaled Meshaal, descend on Mecca, meet with Muslims from all over the globe and collect millions of dollars in donations.
Other observers wonder why Iran—a Shi’a Muslim nation—is helping Sunni Hamas in the first place.
From his perspective, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gains political currency by collaborating with Hamas. He needs the respect of the Sunni world if the Shi’a are to spread their doctrine and take control of the entire Middle East. So he supports Hamas, Syria and other Sunni in addition to Shi’a Hezbollah to show the Arab world that Iran’s concern extends to all Muslims, regardless of theological differences (of course, Hezbollah receives the lion’s share; Hamas receives only token support by comparison).
Nevertheless, Iran continues to play a key role in the destabilization of the region. So does the United States.
America, out of its own kind of ignorance, keeps the conflict burning between Israelis and Palestinians by supporting the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and enabling the PA to persecute Hamas.
Between FY 2007 and 2010, the U.S. government gave the PA $392 million to train and equip its security forces, oversee construction of related infrastructure projects and develop the capacity of the Palestinian Authority. And the State Department requested another $150 million for FY 2011.
When will Washington realize that it cannot join hands with people who do not believe in liberty and personal freedom? The PA does not believe in any concept in the American Constitution. Its security forces persecute and torture people for any reason, and people end up hating the United States because they know that it supports Abu Mazen* and his forces.
Like the PA, Egypt is considered a moderate regime and is supported by the U.S. It persecuted the Muslim Brotherhood for decades, and as a result we have to deal with Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri today. People fled persecution in Egypt, and they will flee persecution in the West Bank and find a place like Somalia, Afghanistan, Chechnya or Iraq where they can express their frustration and hatred and attack the United States.
This only fuels a deadly hatred in the heart of every Hamas member. And at some point, they will uproot Abu Mazen. But Hamas will not take over the West Bank as it did Gaza.
The worst case scenario in the West Bank is that Hamas will create underground cells, launch missiles into Israel, continue to kill Israeli settlers and perhaps assassinate key Fatah and PLO leaders. They do not have the weaponry for a coup or the tunnels through which to smuggle in the weapons. And, despite a huge base of people who sympathize with them, it would be virtually impossible for Hamas to recruit thousands of members to their military wing as they did in Gaza. The Gaza phenomenon was unique. It was a crime of opportunity that is unlikely to reoccur in the West Bank.
So, do I see any hope for my people?
Today, Hamas is doing the same thing it did 15 years ago, and I expect it will continue in the same disruptive and unproductive rut indefinitely. The unholy alliance of the U.S. and the PA will ensure that hatred continues to burn and spread in the West Bank.
There are now two Palestines. And the Bible says that a house that is divided cannot stand.
While peace-brokers continue to drag the same worn cards to the table, they leave the ace out of the deck. Islam has always been the chief obstacle to peace and reconciliation.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed before on independence, self-government and other important issues. There have been truces and ceasefires. Every intervention under the sun—military, diplomatic, economic, logistic—has been tried and failed.
And as long as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Salafis are part of the equation, dialogue and compromise and agreement are impossible. The god of the Qur’an stands in the way.
There can never be dialogue with Islam because every discussion begins and ends with “God said . . .”
Only if the people of the Middle East get rid of Islam, will they be able to deal with their problems and live in peace again with one another. Otherwise, Islam will continue to be the spoiler.
* Abu Mazen is a typical Arabic honorific that means “father of Mazen.” Abbas and his wife, Amina, have three sons: Mazen, Yaser and Tareq.