20 December 2006

When your friends are asking questions

Al Bawaba, a Jordan - based publication with an English language outlet (London) is quite an anti-Israeli outfit. Even this Arabic media source feels a certain unease about the Hamas - Iran alliance. Take its article Hamas-Iran alliance—a blessing for the Palestinian people? as an example.

One of the starting sentences:

For the interest of Iran, the country's leaders have sought to exploit Hamas' isolation in order to become the number one factor influencing on Hamas' policy making apparatus.
The article then goes into analysis of the financial, the military and the religious aspects of this cooperation.
On the financial front, Tehran is looking to fill the vacuum created in the wake of shrinking financial support from both Arab states and the West.


In such a situation, Iran has tried to portrait itself as a main financier of the Palestinians, enabling it to flex its muscles in terms of its involvement in regional affairs. Additionally, the move represents an assertion of Iran's continued commitment to the "resistance," as well as ideological solidarity with the Palestinians.
The next remark is highly significant:
Rather than ending up in the hands of Palestinians, donations from Iran have reportedly been transferred to those close to Hamas and to strengthen the da'wa mechanism of the Islamic Resistance Movement.
To remind you, the above does not come from Jerusalem Post or even New York Times... Now to the military part of the alliance:
In addition to financial support by Iran for Hamas, military cooperation was also discussed during Siyam's visit to Tehran. The minister had pointed out that he requested the help of Iran in training the Palestinian police force - in essence, fortification of the new Hamas security force, currently numbering some 5,600 in the Gaza Strip. Siyam had reportedly requested that hundreds of the new Hamas unit be trained by Iranian experts, possibly in Tehran or Damascus. In addition, they would receive, as happened with Lebanon's Hizbullah, a host of advanced weapons, including anti-tank missiles, communications equipment and night-vision systems. It was also reported that Iran is liable to send officers of its Revolutionary Guard to Gaza to train the Hamas fighters and create a new generation of developers of locally produced advanced armaments. With such advanced gear and training, Hamas' military wing could likely overpower Fatah before long and develop into powerful "Hamas Army".
Do the strategists of Hamas expect that Israel, not to mention other neighbours who are not necessarily in love with Iran and its Syria - Hezbollah - Hams axis, will keep quiet? Already Egypt offers arms to Hamas' rival Fatah and, according to the rumors, some have been already provided by Israel.

On the religious aspect of the alliance, Al Bawaba also has a few things to say:
Iran was among the first countries to hail Hamas, following the latter's victory in the elections. The close relations were exemplified following a subsequent visit in March by Hamas leaders to Iran, and the establishment of a Shiite organization in the Palestinian areas under the banner "The Supreme Islamic Shiite Council in Palestine." The move raised concerns within the Palestinian public that the strengthening of ties between Hamas and Iran would also result in the ascension of Shiism in Palestine.


Many observers believe Hamas' alliance with Iran will cost it the support of its Sunni hinterland, mainly Saudi Arabia and the other oil-rich states. As former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said it will be a mistake for Hamas to cement ties with Iran as Hamas' only "gain" from its alliance with Tehran will be more isolation in the Arab and the international arena.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com