Friday, November 23, 2012

Analysis of the Gaza Clash

another excellent piece by Tawfik Hamid

Analysis of the Gaza Clash
By Tawfik Hamid
The recent military confrontation between Israel and Hamas organization in Gaza raises several concerns. One of these concerns is: Who is behind this escalation & why have they occurred at this particular time?
Some Palestinian leaders such as Saeb Erekat have accused[i]Prime Minister Netanyahu of plotting the conflict for political gain, suggesting that the conflict will help Netanyahu's party in the coming Israeli elections. These accusations are somewhat illogical as the conflict is more likely to put the Israeli government in a serious Catch-22: accepting a cease fire will not satisfy those Israelis who support an invasion of Gaza , whereas invading Gaza may displease a significant percentage of the Israeli population.

Hamas is indisputably part of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)[ii](according both to the second item of the Hamas Charter and to the public oath of allegiance taken by Hamas leaders to the MB). This means that the MB could easily have prevented Hamas from raining rockets down on Israeli civilians, and could have also prevented the escalation of the problem in the first place. One of the main principles of the MB is "Alsama Wa Al-Taa"-which means that by swearing allegiance to the supreme leader of the MB, Hamas MUST obey any commandment given to them by the Supreme guide of the MB (the "Murshid"). Because they did not order Hamas to stand down, the MB must accept an equal share of the responsibility for killing those innocent civilians.
The MB leadership may not have stopped Hamas from attacking Israel for the simple reason that they stood to achieve several important political gains from this conflict.

Understanding the current political situation in Egypt is vital to understand this possibility.
Any observer of recent Middle East affairs must realize that many Egyptians have been recently turning against the Muslim Brotherhood. This is chiefly due to the rapid economic deterioration in Egypt since they came to power. Long gas queuesand spotty residential electricity due to energy shortages have become commonplace since the MB took power. Furthermore, attempts to limitfreedom of the press and attempts to censor the Internet have sparked outrage by many Egyptian liberals against the Islamist ruling regime. Too, the recent MB government decision to close shops at 10pm created a strong public backlash because the decision undermines basic Egyptian cultural mores. Increasing food prices has added even more fuel to the anti-MB fire. The extraordinarily high expectations for a 'miraculous' Islamist solution to Egyptian economic woes, coupled with Mursy's failed promise to solve most of Egypt's problems within the first 100 days of his presidency has accelerated distrust of the Muslim Brotherhood. Anger on the streets against the new government, apparent in recent demonstrations involving thousands of disgruntled Egyptians, has recently reached a level that is beginning to shake the power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Let us now consider how not stopping Hamas from attacking Israel and thereby allowing the escalation of the conflict might help the MB.

The conflict in Gaza at this particular moment might help divert the attention of many Egyptians to the Palestinian problem and thus decrease the mounting public pressure on and the criticism of the MB. It is important in this context to remember that leading members of Hamas have already publicly sworn allegiance to the supreme ruler ('Murshed') of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that both groups share a common ideological platform: wipe Israel from the face of the earth.
Additionally, igniting a military confrontation and pulling Israel into a clash in Gaza could also be used by the MB to justify opening the borders[iii]with Gaza and to garner popular support for giving economic aid to Gaza-even while the Egyptians are themselves seriously suffering! Many Egyptians were extremely angry that the MB was giving diesel to the Gazans while Egyptians are suffering fuel shortages and waiting for hours in very long queues to fill up their cars.

Furthermore, many Egyptians were turning against opening the borders with Gaza after members of the radical Palestinian Islamic groups managed to enter Sinai and killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. Now, after the military confrontation in the area the Muslim Brotherhood can find a 'good' reason to regain the public support for opening the borders with Gaza and for giving economic support to its population.
The conflict can also help Mursy at the international level by showing him as the one who can negotiate with Hamas and end the conflict.

Interestingly, many Egyptians-as observed on mainstream Arabic media and on Internet social media networks-were not in fact distracted by the Gaza issue and are still criticizing the MB for mismanagement of the country. Coincidentally, a recent train accident in the south of Egypt that killed more than 50 young school children has turned even more Egyptians against the MB, who seemed to care more about the situation in Gaza than the tragedy at home. In the last few days, Facebook and Twitter are replete with comparisons between the MB's affectionate concern for Gaza and the apparent lack of concern for their own people. This situation confirmed to many Egyptians the spreading view that the MB loyalty is to the Palestinians--NOT to the Egyptian people.
To conclude, initiating rocket attacks on Israel by the Hamas organization was preventable. The MB leaders in Egypt could have simply commanded Hamas not to attack Israeli civilians. Their failure to do so is particularly egregious because it is so obviously politically motivated. In light of the fact that a clash in Gaza-at this particular moment in time-could only serve to divert the seriously intensifying 'Internal' public anger against the MB toward an 'external' enemy (i.e., Israel), it is not easy to reach a conclusion that is charitable toward the Muslim Brotherhood. 
Finally , it is yet to be explained WHY and HOW Hamas became capable of attacking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first timeONLY after President Mursy came to power last June (i.e. only within 6 months of him assuming office!).


[i] This piece of information was provided by Mr. Jeff Young (Senior Correspondent of VOA) in his interview with Dr. Hamid 20/Nov/2012 time 11:30 am-12 pm.

[ii] Article Two: The Link between Hamas and the Association of Muslim Brothers
The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era. It is characterized by a profound understanding by precise notions and by a complete comprehensiveness of all concepts of Islam in all domains of life: views and beliefs, politics and economics, education and society, jurisprudence and rule, indoctrination and teaching, the arts and publications, the hidden and the evident, and all the other domains of life.
[iii] The more Palestinians can enter Sinai, the more the Muslim Brotherhood can maintain power in Egypt as the 'military trained' personnel from Hamas can be readily available to assist the MB at any time against a (likely) future public uprising by the Egyptian people against the MB.

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