Jameel Theyabi
Dar Al-Hayat (Opinion)
May 9, 2011 - 12:00am

The questions currently on the table are the following: Why was the Palestinian reconciliation not secured before the headache and the flu which hit Syria due to the acuteness of the “massive” demonstrations and protests that are ongoing in the Syrian cities and towns?! Did the Syrian authorities’ allusion to the presence of Palestinian “infiltrators” play a role in Hamas’s search for a hosting place other than Damascus?! Did Hamas adopt a decision to stop humoring Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its ally Iran after it felt it was a mere card exploited by both sides in exchange for promises of financial support that never existed in reality? Were the spirits of the Hamas elements and leaders affected by the sight of the killings, oppression, the tanks and the armored vehicles targeting the Syrians and not the Israelis? Has Hamas’s patience run out vis-à-vis the outbidding of the Syrian regime as a rejectionist and the host of the resistance while it is opening the doors of direct negotiations with Israel and abstaining from firing even one bullet to liberate the Golan?! Was Syria truly an obstacle in the face of Hamas’s reconciliation with Fatah throughout the years of dispute and was it the instigator against the Palestinian authority?

The politicians know that the relationship between Damascus and Hamas is one of pragmatism and benefits, as Syria benefitted from the Hamas card to exert pressures and achieve its interests and foreign goals, by promoting its role as a rejectionist and a defender of the Palestinian cause. This earned it wide popular support through the adoption of the positions of the resistance, in order to come out as the sponsor of the violated rights of the Palestinians.

As for Hamas, it is an Islamic movement that is ideologically linked to the Muslim Brotherhood Group and that implements its political attack and retreat method, whereas the Syrian regime is a Socialist Baathist one, which is hostile to the latter group. In this context, it is no secret that among the goals of the Iranian-Syrian alliance is the elimination of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, and this could clearly be seen through the swift announcement made by the Syrian regime regarding the fact that armed groups belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and receiving support from the Lebanese Future Movement were behind the shootings against the protesters and the security men. However, despite the political and ideological difference between the Baathist regime and Hamas, it continued to hold on to the Hamas card, provide it with financial and logistic support, and move it in directions that would secure its own interests before the Palestinian ones.

Around three years ago, I asked an Arab official on the sidelines of the Arab summit in Doha about the reasons behind the Arab failure to achieve reconciliation between the Palestinian factions. I added – for my part - that Hamas undermined the Holy Mecca reconciliation after having sworn on the Koran in front of the Kaaba, and continued to stall and obstruct the Egyptian effort aiming at ending the division.

This official who relinquished governmental work responded by saying that the efforts deployed by Riyadh and Cairo were clear and aimed at arranging the Palestinian home, but that some in Damascus wished to monopolize Hamas and lead it to Tehran’s lap, and thus instigated it not to accept anything that was not wanted by the rejectionist states. He indicated that Syria was maneuvering and trying to thwart the efforts of specific Arab countries, in order to maintain the card of the Palestinian cause and use it to overcome the international pressures and in the face of its ally Iran.

Recently, and with a pure Egyptian effort that was less significant than the one deployed during the days of Hosni Mubarak, the Palestinian factions signed the reconciliation document in Cairo. This was not due to the departure of Mubarak and his regime, but in my opinion to the fact that Hamas had nowhere to go but the avenue of reconciliation to end the division and the dispute. This is especially true in light of the collapse of the Syrian position on the domestic arena, the exposure of its brutality against its citizens, the emergence of the international blockade imposed on it and the uncovering of the fakeness of the Iranian slogans. Is it true that Syria asked Hamas’s command to define its position toward the popular revolution that is expanding week after week? Is it true that Syria asked it to issue a clear position condemning the statements of Sheikh Youssef al-Qardawi?

I believe that the current relations between the Syrian regime and Hamas’s command are uncertain and unsettled. This could be seen through the movement’s deliberate leaking of reports related to its intention to move from Damascus to Cairo or Doha, before it later denied these reports 72 hours before the signing of the reconciliation. This constituted an attempt to feel the pulse of the Syrian political position, while the picture at this level will become clearer during the next stage.

What is certain nonetheless, is that Hamas did not sign the reconciliation agreement until after it felt it had nowhere to go but back to the table of negotiations, in order to achieve reconciliation and arrange the domestic home in light of the changes in the region, the revolutions of the Arab people, the escalation of Syria’s domestic crisis and the increase of Iran’s external problems. This reveals the end of the marriage of “benefits” between Hamas and the Syrian regime, and the move toward Egypt.

The changing of the attitudes in the region and the new positioning of Syria, Hamas and Iran against the backdrop of the popular revolutions will be followed by other transformations affecting the standpoint of states, regimes and movements in the region. This is due to the fact that the Arab popular revolutions did not surprise the Arab governments alone, but also America and the European countries. The governments, movements and groups will consequently be forced to verify the safety of their statuses, reassess their positions and start arranging their affairs in a manner that goes in line with the transformations witnessed at the level of the regional political map.


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