Shouldn't Hamas take lessons from history?

The options for Hamas are now painfully limited. It must either dump Muslim Brotherhood or risk extinction. Fatah officials have already advised the Palestinian militia organisation which governs the Gaza strip to eschew its radical and theocratic policies and abandon Muslim Brotherhood. Yet another Palestinian movement, Tamarod (meaning rebellion), has called for defying and isolating Hamas in Gaza. None of its former allies in the Arab world are by its side today. Hamas is in unprecedented quandary — into a situation worse than the one it faced in 2007. The siege and isolation it is now facing are oppressive.

Offering his counsel to Hamas, Abdel Rahim Jamous, a pro-Fatah political analyst has advocated the militia outfit to "seize the opportunity" and "return to Palestinian national legitimacy … You (Hamas) have no future with the Muslim Brotherhood. They have failed even before they started. They are losers. Wake up before it's too late."

In its first ever statement issued last week goading Palestinians, Gazans in particular, to rise in revolt against Hamas, Tamarod said; "Oh Palestinians, revolt against oppression and division, revolt against those impeding the elections. No one is legitimate; the mandate of everyone has ended. The only legitimacy is that of the people. Our movement in the West Bank and Gaza is peaceful with a clear aim — returning legitimacy to the people."

Tamarod claims that it is an independent initiative that is not related to any party, movement, faction or authority; a youth initiative that aims at making the voice of the youth heard and enabling its 
political participation.

For Hamas the situation could not be worse. In Gaza, its home turf, it has lately suffered unbelievable crisis of credibility and erosion of support. From over 70 per cent which it enjoyed even year-and-a-half ago Hamas' popularity has come down to 20 per cent according to a popularity poll undertaken a few days before Mohamed Mursi came tumbling down from the pinnacle of authority. 

Eighty per cent of the people in Gaza today hold Hamas primarily responsible for their plight and pathetic state of existence. Gaza, today, is teetering on a precipice and West Asian political observers feel that situations prevailing in this strip of land point to the fact that it may soon explode in revolt against Hamas. 

Hamas is the first and perhaps the biggest casualty of Mursi's fall in Egypt and this turn of event has created a "nightmare scenario" for the organisation. It has lost its key patron and at a time when it is plagued by internal dissention for snapping its ties with Iran by taking a rather awkward stand on the Syrian conflict. Hamas withdrew all its political establishments from Iran accusing Tehran of precipitating sectarian crisis in Syria. Iran responded by withdrawing its support for Hamas. Over the same issue, it embittered its alliance with Lebanese militia, Hezbollah. Turn of events in Egypt has left Hamas a pariah. 

Emaciation of Hamas and the muck into which it has put itself have come as golden opportunities for both Israel and Fatah. To both of them, Hamas has long been like a painful thorn in their fleshes. Fatah now sees an opportunity coming on its way to reunite the divided Palestinians and re-establish its political hegemony over the entire demography. 

In its hara-kiri Hamas reminds us the mistake Yasser Arafat made way back in 1990 when the then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait. Arafat supported Saddam's invasion and saw being isolated in the entire Arab Gulf region. It was a costly choice Arafat made and Iraq's defeat in the war left PLO with no option but to buckle under US-Israeli pressure and negotiate with Tel Aviv. 

Arafat's calculations were wrong which led PLO tainted in the darkest of hues. PLO's gamble to go with Iraq did not pay off. Palestinians and their causes suffered irreparable damages from which they are yet to recover. 

Hamas, by severing its ties with Iran and Syria and by towing the lines of Muslim Brotherhood has repeated the blunders of Arafat. Evidently, Hamas has not learnt from history.

Since its inception in 1987, Hamas grew and thrived on keeping the Palestinians divided, by selling the romance of liberation through armed struggle, belittling Fatah and offering itself as a better alternative. The façade has started to wear down. So long we have seen the northward movement of Hamas stock. It is time now for Fatah to take advantage of a reverse trend. 

Many within Fatah now sees the situation absolutely conducive to eliminate Hamas and end division among the Palestinians. It has given a call to overthrow Hamas. A statement of Jamal Nazzal, a senior Fatah representative, has been more than explicit. It said: "We hope that the historic victory of the Egyptian people would help (us) get rid of the destructive division and restore national unity" among Palestinians.

Hamas is perceptibly nervous; its survival is in peril. It fears that it could be the next to fall. A popular revolt against Hamas is indeed brewing in Gaza. It is still on the back burner but it will not take too long to erupt. 

Still it is too early to start the countdown for the collapse of Hamas but it is certainly looming like a dagger. Israel is waiting at the border ready to strike and drive the last nail in the coffin of Hamas.

The author is the Opinion Editor of Times of Oman.


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