Thursday, March 1, 2012

Between Politics and Principles: Hamas' Perilous Maneuvers

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"Despite all of Hamas' assurances to the contrary, a defining struggle is taking place within the Palestinian Islamic movement. The outcome of this struggle – which is still confined to polite political disagreements and occasional intellectual tussle – is likely to change Hamas’ outlook, if not fundamentally alter its position within a quickly changing Arab political landscape.

The current Hamas is already different from the one initially set up by a local Gaza leadership in December 1987 in response to the first Palestinian uprising.....

Writing in the Lebanese Daily Star, Michael Broning, Israel-based director of the German Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung foundation, agrees. “Meshaal has come to represent a force of change,” he states, while Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh “represents the conservative wing of Gaza’s Hamas leadership.” Thus a long-coveted opening is presenting itself as “disagreements within Hamas have been escalating, pitting the movement’s diaspora leadership against the Hamas-led Gaza administration.” Tellingly, the title of Broning’s article is: “Engage Hamas’ moderates and test their newfound flexibility” (Feb 24).

Some commentators, Broning included, are widely speculating on the future of the movement. News outlets are rife with reports regarding Hamas’ maneuvering - whether compelled by political necessity or propelled by the ideological triumph of Islamist forces in the region.

Hamas might be reinventing itself, or it may simply be trying to weather the storm. Either way, the political context of Hamas’ maneuvers is quickly leaving its traditional home (the Israeli occupation), and moving into a whole new dimension regarding the region as a whole. While Hamas might convincingly argue that survival necessitates measured shifts in politics, it is more difficult to explain how quickly and readily regional politicking is trumping national priorities.

Indeed, the line separating principles and politics can at times be a very fine one. "

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