Arab Spring's derailment has Hamas on the ropes

Aug. 24, 2013 at 10:20 AM
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RAMALLAH, Gaza, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- The Palestinian militant group Hamas has been rocked back on its heels by the turmoil in the Middle East, political analysts told The New York Times.

Iran, Syria and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood had been important international financial supporters of Hamas, but they have experienced their own setbacks amid the Arab Spring, which have cost Hamas.

"Now, Hamas is an orphan," said Akram Atallah, a political analyst and columnist. "Hamas was dreaming ... that the Islamists were going to take over in all the capitals. Those dreams have been dashed."

The Times said the Muslim Brotherhood has been ousted from power and is on the defensive in Egypt. The military government has also virtually closed the border between Egypt and Gaza.

Hamas also alienated Syria and Iran by throwing its support behind the anti-government rebels in the now-stalemated rebellion.

The result has been a budget shortfall in Gaza of around $250 million. The Hamas government has created a "crisis cell" of select cabinet ministers that has met daily for the past two weeks.

In the meantime, the new dynamic could lead to reconciliation with the more moderate Fatah leadership in the West Bank at the same time that Fatah is set to sit down for negotiations with Israel.

But other experts in the region fear the new weakness of Hamas and the absence of Egypt as an intermediary could result in Fatah become more hard-nosed in its uneasy relationship with the leadership in Gaza.

"Our policy right now is to keep the people quiet," Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar told the Times. "We have to keep our people highly immunized against the extreme attitude."

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