October 13, 2008 Special Dispatch No. 2081

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: 'Hamas Is a Very Real Danger to the Palestinian Cause'

October 13, 2008
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 2081
In an editorial titled "Following [in] Afghanistan's Footsteps," published October 8, 2008 in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, editor-in-chief Tariq Al-Homayed warned that under Hamas's rule, Gaza was becoming like Afghanistan – a hotbed of poverty, violence and strife among armed factions. He called on the Arabs to take a firm stand against Hamas, saying that it was undermining the Palestinian cause and was also a real threat to Egypt.

Following are excerpts from the article, as it appeared in the English-language edition of the paper:(1)

Gaza is Becoming Another Afghanistan – And "The First Casualty Will Be The Palestinians and Their Cause"

"The issuing of statements by new armed organizations that go by various names has become a familiar occurrence in the Palestinian territories, particularly in the Gaza strip, Hamas's stronghold. The common denominator [of] all these different groups is their possession of weapons, and their readiness to use them.

"The relative size of these groups is not important. What is important is the following: "Firstly, the rhetoric from these groups has intensified; [each] statement released is more [strident] than the one before. Secondly, the Gaza strip is following in the footsteps of Afghanistan [in terms of] the abundance of arms, poverty, and division between armed groups, [all of which] are more than prepared to fight, leading to even greater divisions.

"We have seen the group Jaysh Al-Umma (The Army of the Islamic Nation), which some claimed did not exist, even though Hamas arrested its leader Abu Hafs and then released him. We have seen a bloody conflict between the forces of Hamas and the Doghmush family, and today we see the [establishment of the] so-called Palestinian Hezbollah.

"The transformation of the Gaza strip into another Afghanistan is a future whose first casualty will be the Palestinians and their cause. [This cause] has been shattered by Hamas, [whose members] want to rule as they will, and are waiting for the world to accommodate them."

"Tolerating Hamas Will Be an Arab Sin"

"The first thing we must do is stop this nonsense of saying that Hamas came to power through elections. For those who come to power via elections do not have the right to be selective with regards to agreements made by the legitimate authority – the very same authority which pushed for the elections which Hamas won in the first place. Unfortunately, this view is taken not only [by some] among the public, but also by some Arab politicians. Those who call for elections must respect all previous agreements.

"And what must be said at this juncture is that Hamas is a very real danger to the Palestinian cause. They have already blown the chance of creating a Palestinian state by splitting off from the legitimate authority of Abu Mazen [i.e. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas]. The coming days will certainly be worse, with the possible departure of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas next January. Therefore, tolerating Hamas will be an Arab sin as long as the Arabs are supporting the Palestinian cause.

"The Gaza strip has been transformed into a potential land mine due to poverty, repressions, and the proliferation of arms. Moreover, Hamas has shown that it won't [be] unleashing its fury against the Israelis but rather against Egypt and its borders; they have become a real danger to the Egyptians, which is what we have seen with the breach of the Gaza-Egypt border...

"[Hamas] enjoys a truce with Israel, [and has] turned the Gaza strip into a front as peaceful as the Golan Heights, while at the same time they dare accuse the Palestinian government of meekness and of forgetting the Palestinian cause."

"We Cannot Allow Hamas to Fragmentize the Palestinians As They Wish – Or to Plot With Iran As They See Fit"

"In conclusion, we have yet to see a reasonable trend within the Hamas organization which appreciates the consequences of governing Gaza. We have not heard [any] protests [against] Hamas's threat to occupy the West Bank and to control it as they did the Gaza strip.

"And so we must take a decisive stand against Hamas, and [this] for a simple reason: The boat in which they are drilling holes will not only drown them, but [will] drown all of us, and we will all be the victims. We cannot allow Hamas to fragmentize the Palestinians as they wish, or to plot with Iran as they see fit."

(1) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 8, 2008.

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