Egyptian-Qatari Rapprochement Could Push Hamas Back into Tehran’s Orbit

Post-Arab Spring regional realignment broke Hamas’ ties with Iran, now normalisation of relations between Egypt and Qatar could bring them back


There are recent indications that Egypt and Qatar are on the path to reconciliation. Qatar’s relations with a number of states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have been strained due to the small Gulf state’s support for Islamist movements, namely the Muslim Brotherhood. While meetings between Egyptian and Qatari diplomats may not lead to a full thawing of relations, normalisation does have major implications for the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (known better by its Arabic acronym: Hamas).

The Syrian conflict precipitated a shifting of alliances in the MENA region. The Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters, as well as Iranian support for military operations against a nascent rebellion in early-2012, led Hamas leadership to withdraw from its headquarters in Damascus and relocate to the Qatari capital of Doha.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal delivering a speech in Damascus in 2005 (via LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Hamas envisioned an opportunity with the so-called “Arab Spring.” Long-marginalised Islamist political organisations mobilised with strong showings in post-revolutionary elections, heralding a shift toward Sunni Islamist rule in the region. Hamas viewed this new status quo as more favourable to its struggle for Palestinian liberation, especially compared to the Arab dictators who had made peace with Israel. In Tunisia, the Ennahda party won October 2011 parliamentary elections and in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood — Hamas’ parent organisation — and the Salafist Hezb an-Nour won a plurality of votes in late-2011/early-2012 parliamentary elections. Additionally, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi claimed victory as Egypt’s first democratically-elected president in June 2012.

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Picks of the week, 22-28 December

Karl Sharro, An Adoring Profile of a Western Journalist, Karl reMarks, 22 December 2014.
Lucy Draper, German Journalist Returns From Time With ISIS With Chilling Stories, Newsweek, 22 December 2014.
Akiva Eldar, Livni, Herzog worry Netanyahu, Al-Monitor, 22 December 2014.
Eric Reidy, Nidaa Tunis, Ennahda agree on economic policy, Al-Monitor, 22 December 2014.
Sarah Irving, Rebel songs to rap: the history of Palestine’s music, The Electronic Intifada, 22 December 2014.
Corinna Mullin and Brahim Rouabah, Requiem for Tunisia’s Revolution?, Jadaliyya, 22 December 2014.
Marcia Lynx Qualey, The 40+ Modern Arabic Literary Works Published in English Translation in 2014, Arabic Literature (in English), 23 December 2014.
Amnesty International, Iraq: Yezidi women and girls face harrowing sexual violence, 23 December 2014.
James Traub, The Lighthouse Dims, Foreign Policy, 23 December 2014.
Hussein Ibish, Nida Tunis faces daunting challenges, NOW, 23 December 2014.
Human Rights Watch, Syria: Escalating Assault on Rebel-Held District, 23 December 2014.
Roger Cohen, Why Israeli-Palestinian Peace Failed, The New York Times, 23 December 2014.
Hussein Ibish, Settlements sabotaged talks, not Palestinians, The National, 27 December 2014.
Rozh Ahmad, Uncovering Islamic State mass graves on the Kobashi frontline, Your Middle East, 28 December 2014.


Did you read an interesting news article, op-ed, analysis or report in the last week that you’d like to share? Provide a link in the comments section below!

Review: Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human Rights

Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein, Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human Rights (Routledge: London, 2008).

Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human RightsOn November 24th, 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a bill to his cabinet that would define Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”. This bill proved so acrimonious that Netanyahu dismissed two important cabinet members over its content and ultimately decided to dissolve the Knesset in favour of elections. The debate is not new; the question of “Jewish and democratic” has long been a divisive one in Israeli history. Following the 1967 war, there has been a controversial debate about the future of Israel. Its future is debated in both practical and existential terms usually framed with reference to ‘the Palestinian Question.’ This is usually phrased as to what extent can, and should, Israel maintain its status as a simultaneously Jewish and democratic state. Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein have attempted to settle this debate by arguing that Israel can and must be both Jewish and democratic. They ultimately conclude that a failure to view Israel as such denies its legitimacy as a nation-state. The authors seek to contextualize the case of Israel in a world of modern nations and liberal democracies and to ultimately contest the concept that Israel’s very existence needs re-examining.

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Picks of the week, 15-21 December

Madawi Al-Rasheed, Middle East dictators feed sectarianism, Al-Monitor, 15 December 2014.
Abubakr al-Shamahi, AQAP at a crossroads: emulate or moderate, al-Araby al-Jadeed, 16 December 2014.
Frederic Wehrey, Mosul on the Mediterranean? The Islamic State in Libya and U.S. Counterterrorism Dilemmas, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 17 December 2014.
Mariya Karimjee, My Friend Wears A Hijab, And I Judge Her For It, Buzzfeed, 17 December 2014.
Alistair Horne, Torture in a Savage War of Peace: Revisiting the Battle of Algiers, War on the Rocks, 17 December 2014.
Carlotta Gall, End of Presidential Race Leaves Tunisia Divided, The New York Times, 19 December 2014.
Iyad El-Baghdadi, ISIS Is Sisi Spelled Backwards, Foreign Policy, 19 December 2014.
Sarah Feuer, Tunisians Vote in a Runoff, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 19 December 2014.
The Economist, Another gambit: How far will Mahmoud Abbas push a resolution to end Israeli occupation?, 20 December 2014.
Roger Cohen, What Will Israel Become?, The New York Times, 20 December 2014.

Supporters at a rally Thursday for Moncef Marzouki, Tunisia’s interim president, who is in a runoff election on Sunday
Supporters at a rally Thursday for Moncef Marzouki, Tunisia’s interim president, who is in a runoff election on Sunday (via The New York Times)

Did you read an interesting news article, op-ed, analysis or report in the last week that you’d like to share? Provide a link in the comments section below!

Flooding in Morocco: An interview with Mhamed Alhilali

In the aftermath of heavy rainfall that led to flooding in many areas of southern Morocco, Kevin Moore from Al Miraah had the opportunity to speak with Mhamed Alhilali, Project Director of Casablanca-based Moroccan NGO Amis des Écoles. Mr. Alhilali was born in raised in Tata and has long been involved in social and charitable work within his community.

Mhamed Alhilali distributing aid on behalf of Amis des Écoles in Akka, Tata.
Mhamed Alhilali distributing aid on behalf of Amis des Écoles in Akka, Tata.

Can you describe the extreme weather that affected the southern regions of the Kingdom of Morocco recently? What were the human casualties and physical damage that occurred as a result of the heavy rains?
Torrential rains poured down on the south of the Kingdom of Morocco from 21-30 November 2014, claiming the lives of more than 40 people in various affected cities. In some areas, as much as 250 ml of rain fell. However, the toll was heaviest in the ill-fated city of Guelmim, where the infrastructure, roads and public spaces were damaged. Roads and pathways were destroyed and a number of villages and rural areas were isolated from the outside world. Land and trees were swept away, greatly impacting farming and killing a large amount of livestock — sheep, cows and goats. Meanwhile, services like water, electricity and phone lines were cut off in some areas for nearly a week.

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