Moscow (GPA) – Following electoral shifts in the past several years, portions of Hamas have been carrying out a campaign to “end Iranian influence” in the Gaza Strip which has left the organization without a clear path forward.
In 2015, Hamas outlawed the activities of the al-Sabirin Movement in the Gaza Strip, allegedly motivated by “fighting the spread of Shiism,” as a part of a larger campaign to alienate Iran and Hezbollah (the same excuse used by Gazan authorities to shutter the organization for the first time in 2011). A year after the al-Sabirin movement was banned, the ruling party of the Gaza Strip banned the charity organization “Al-Bakyat El-Salehat Society,” which is associated with al-Sabirin and the Iranian “Imam Khomeini relief Fund”. After a while, it became clear that due to the lack of political foresight, Hamas will be forced to correct mistakes, and the” symbol of correction ” of foreign policy will again be the story of offices and “Shia” organizations in the Gaza Strip.
The irony of all this came after Hamas “banned” the Pro-Iranian faction guided by sectarian rhetoric but now allows the relief wing of Al-Nujaba – part of the Iraqi PMUs – to operate in Gaza. Al-Nujaba is also a Shia organization and officially are followers of the Jafari madhhab.
So what happened in the camp of Hamas? Why did they block their own Shia Palestinians from organizing, but allow the Iraqi office to work? If we turn to sectarian rhetoric, we can ask the question: why did you ban the” Palestinian Shiites ” and allow the Iraqi ones to function? Where is the logic?
The truth is, there is no simple answer to these questions but we can briefly explain the big picture in this situation.
A large part of this trouble began after Hamas, led by Khaled Mishaal, broke with Syria and joined the Qatar-Turkey Alliance. These new “allies” of Hamas organized an anti-Iranian campaign in Gaza, in order to remove Tehran and Hezbollah from the blockaded Sector forever. It is the “fight against Iran” thesis that can explain the split between the military wing and the political leadership, the deterioration of relations with the Palestinian Jihad, and ultimately the apogee of hostile policy towards Iran on the territory of the Sector led to the blocking of the al-Sabireen movement.
There have, however, been some positive changes following the 2017 internal elections when the Sinwar–Haniyeh tandem took over the leadership of Hamas. The ruling party of the Gaza strip has begun to take steps to return to the Pro-Iranian alliance. Three years later, active diplomacy has yielded results, and now we see how, while the IRGC may suffer restrictions in their Gaza operations, loyal associates from Iraq are present in the territory now.
However, even though the Pro-Iranian team has made significant progress in correcting the mistakes of the previous leadership, it cannot be said that Hamas has the right approach to other Islamic movements, nor has it significantly changed into a party that represents a different ideology. This means that even while the military leaders of the largest Palestinian party have temporarily managed to smooth out internal contradictions and restore former ties with Iran at the official level, this may not last forever.
Despite the moves back towards Iran these gains by Palestinian Shia could be undone should the factions in charge of Hamas pre-2017 find a way back into power. The aging leaders of the al-Qassam Brigade will have a struggle ahead of them to win the internal elections again. After all, it was the arrival of leaders like Sinwar and Haniyeh that largely helped restore the role of Hamas in the Axis of Resistance and distance from the Axis of conformity (Qatar-Turkey). Will the tactic of changing the leadership to correct the path work in the future? There are many similar questions, but no clear answers.
Hamas still has time to rethink a number of points in its Charter. In the situation with the “Shiites” in Gaza, we see that Hamas is still “sick” with “traditional shiaphobia”. To cure this disease, it is necessary to open the faculty of “for the proximity of madhabs” at the Islamic University of Gaza. As for the main foreign policy thesis – “non-interference in the Affairs of Arab countries”, based on the facts of betrayal of the absolute majority of Arab regimes, Hamas must radically reconsider its approach to dictatorships. It is time for Hamas to get rid of the illusion of “good-neighborly coexistence” with tyrants, turning a blind eye to their ties to Zionism. First of all, in the interests of Hamas, the elimination of the junta of Egypt, the Kingdom of Jordan, and the overthrow of the monarchy of the Persian Gulf. These States do not hide their hostility to Hamas, so why should they be tolerated?
Al-Sabirin, in the words of its leader, is “an Islamic movement that believes in the unity of Muslims.” This fact shows that at the time of the decision on the ban, Hamas either did not understand much and as an argument for “propaganda of Shiism” used propaganda against the organization such as highlighting the logo of the Palestinian movement, which is similar to the emblem of Hezbollah. While this may be necessary to please Doha and Ankara, Hamas is only doing itself harm to push away the Islamic Revolution and the party’s future success will likely depend on decisions to be made in the near future.
It is interesting, that the leadership of the Palestinian Jihad did not react to the pressure of Hamas on yesterday’s comrades. Here we should focus on the word “comrades”. Because al-Sabirin is a faction that broke away from the Palestinian Jihad because of its disagreement with the political course of the PIJ. As for the presence of “anti-Shiite” views within Hamas, they first made themselves felt in a marginal form back in 2003. The purpose of all these provocations is to prevent the strengthening of ties between Hamas and Iran.
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