October 10, 2013 | Quote
Hamas Facing Political Crisis, Leadership Fight After Diplomatic Missteps Send Group Into Tailspin
Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, had until recently never visited the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Over the years there had been many justifications – a primary one being that it kept him beyond the Israelis’ range – but the upshot was always that he remained physically separated from the terror organization’s center of power.
Meanwhile Meshaal had in recent years sought to align Hamas with the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey, and Qatar, who together anchored one of three solidifying blocs in the Middle East: the Sunni extremist bloc made up of those three, an Israel-Arab bloc aligned with the United States, and an Iran-led Shiite bloc that included Syria and Hezbollah. The gamble – which required Hamas to distance itself rom its traditional Iranian sponsors – was a disaster. The Muslim Brotherhood collapsed in Egypt, Qatari influence ebbed dramatically, and Turkish power went into free-fall.
The result is that Hamas is facing the prospect – according to Orit Perlov, a research fellow at the Israel-based Institute for National Security Studies – of all-out collapse. Perlov’s analysis echoes that of Washington Institute Fellow Ehud Yaari, who in July argued that diplomatic missteps and economic dislocation had triggered “one of its most testing crises ever” for Hamas. Officials from the group have themselves been forced to acknowledge that “the situation is not good and of course we are under pressure.”
Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of reseach at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has called on U.S. policymakers to deliver a deathblow to the now-weakened terror group before it can reconsolidate and restore its lifelines to the outside world.