Hamas. Diplomatically speaking, either you're with them - or you haven't yet decided what to do about them.
Most of the Western world is struggling with the moral issues raised by recognizing Hamas, terrorists elevated to the status of democratically elected leaders of the Palestinian people. Most of the Muslim world is vying for opportunities to court Hamas, to curry favor with Hamas, to cut deals with Hamas. Muslim countries that virtually abandoned the Palestinian people under the leadership of Arafat and Abbas have embraced the new Hamas leadership.
For their part, Hamas has begun a diplomatic scurry for arms, power and recognition.
Iran, no surprise here, wants a close relationship with Hamas and has already played host for a two day visit. More important than friendship, Iran is interested in sponsorship. They want to pick up the financial slack, crucial for the future of any Palestinian state that the Western world has been threatening to discontinue.
Iran and Hamas are in total sync over the role of Allah in the unfolding of the events that led to the Hamas victory.
Khalad Mashal the diplomatic leader of Hamas has said about the triumphant rise to political power of Hamas, "this victory was a blessing by the almighty, meant to spare the blood of the oppressed and reward the martyrs." And the Ayatollah Khamenei, the undisputed religious leader of Iran, said of the Hamas/Iran nexus "such support will boost the link between Muslims and Palestinians and have great influence on the world, while also boosting the morale of those facing Israel's systematic belligerence." And then the religious leader called the political victory a "sweet surprise, and proof Allah's promises materialize."
And they both agree on the way to handle Israel. "The only way to succeed is to continue to resist the occupation," Khamenei said. And more: "The Palestinian people knew voting for Hamas marks the continuation of fighting against the Zionist occupation regime."
But words don't pay the bills. And while Iran is saying all the right things, while Iran is offering verbal support, encouragement and endorsement, Iran is famous for making fancy promises but not following through on their commitments - especially when it comes to money. The Palestinians need a lot of money. We will know soon enough if Iran really does step in and delivers the large sums of money the Palestinian government truly needs.
Syria. Venezuela. No big surprises there either. Syria has already hosted Hamas and Venezuela is looking for a new friend. Egypt. Jordan. Turkey. That comes as a bit of a surprise. These are supposed to be Western-leaning countries, they are supposed to be forward thinking. And they have each experienced firsthand the horrors of terror inflicted upon their citizens.
Egypt knows the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism and yet they are suggesting a "wait and see" approach with Hamas. The greatest threat facing Egypt comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological model for Hamas and the group that provides more religious support to Hamas than any other group in the world. And yet the same Egyptian leaders who successfully negotiated the cease fire between Israel and Hamas have just suggested to US Secretary of State Rice that the United States gives Hamas time to moderate their attitude toward Israel and the West.
Jordan has invited Hamas for a visit, but only if their diplomatic mission is led by the number two diplomatic man, Abu Marzouk, and not by number one Khaled Mashal. In other words, Jordan will not permit Khaled Mashal, the chief diplomat for Hamas entry into their country. Jordan considers Mashal a destabilizing force, an irresponsible leader and a terrorist. Jordan is allowing itself to enter into a diplomatic relationship with Hamas by making a distinction, perhaps rationalizing a distinction, Hamas as a movement and Hamas as elected leadership. Without a doubt this is an important distinction, but certainly, Hamas is hardly a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Turkey has just finished a sit-down with Hamas. The meetings took place in Syria. Turkey is trying to straddle the fence. They are a democracy but they are also a Muslim state. Turkey confronts a serious consistent fundamentalist Islamic threat and understands just how powerful and destructive the Islamic movement can be to their democracy. Turkey has urged Hamas to follow the path of the Palestinian Authority prior to their ascension to political power and to recognize Israel and to understand their new role as national leaders and regional players. Even Saudi Arabia, a nation that does not itself recognize Israel, has urged Hamas to continue in the footsteps of the PA and recognize Israel.
Russia. On the surface it would seem somewhat surprising, even perplexing, to learn that Russia has extended a welcoming hand to Hamas. But Russia is all about economics and the hand it extended was holding a business contract.
For Russia the entire relationship with any government, and Hamas is no exception, is about weapons and money. Russia needs new markets willing to serve as dumping grounds for the antiquated weapons it still owns. Hamas wants guns. Honestly, Hamas wants anything and everything connected to weapons including helicopters and armored vehicles. Hamas has actually already placed an order with the Russians for two M-17 helicopters and seventy armored vehicles. Russia will sell to anyone and suffer no pangs of remorse. They have cut deals with Syria, they have curt deals with Iran, they area cutting deals with Hamas.
Friends. Money. Guns. Status. Hamas would be happy to have it all. But above all comes ideology. And Hamas has done nothing, nothing at all, to suggest even the smallest modification in their ideological foundation. And that, my friends, does not bode well for our future.
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