[Marxism] Hamas cuts ties with Assad and sends military to train rebels - Washington Times

Jeff meisner at xs4all.nl
Sun Apr 14 13:18:32 MDT 2013


At 13:37 14/04/2013 -0500, mjs at smithbowen.net wrote:
>
>> Anything in that Moonie rag

Agreed, but it is widely sourced. The following article is from Gulf News 
but is credited as coming from the Christian Science Monitor. Or if you want 
the right wing take on this matter you can read this article in Frontpage 
Mag called "Hamas Terrorists Now Training Free Syrian Army Terrorists":

http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/hamas-terrorists-now-training-free-syrian-army-terrorists/ 

- Jeff 


http://gulfnews.com/news/region/iran/syria-crisis-forces-hamas-to-abandon-bashar-al-assad-for-new-allies-1.1168872

Syria crisis forces Hamas to abandon Bashar Al Assad for new allies

Palestinian group allegedly helping train units of the rebel Free Syrian Army

    By Nicholas Blanford
    Published: 14:58 April 10, 2013
    Gulf News

Dubai: Before the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad began in 
2011, Hamas was a key ally of Damascus and a component of the Iran-led ‘axis 
of resistance’ that challenged Israel and the West in the Middle East.

But after two years of bloodshed in Syria, Hamas has abandoned Damascus and 
distanced itself from Iran, a major supporter of Al Assad’s regime. Instead 
the Palestinian group is courting potential new suitors, particularly the 
small but influential Gulf state of Qatar, and Egypt, which controls the 
crucial southern border of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and is ruled by the 
Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological parent of Hamas.

“The Hamas split with Damascus is undeniable. Hamas could not maintain any 
relationship with the Syrian regime in the face of the wide and deep 
opprobrium it faces in the Sunni street, Hamas’ principal support base,” 
says Randa Slim, a research fellow at the New America Foundation and a 
scholar at the Middle East Institute.

But given the shifting dynamics of the region and the sharpening of the 
Sunni-Shiite divide, Hamas still appears to be keeping its options open with 
its former patron Iran and fellow anti-Israel resistance group, the Lebanese 
Shiite group Hezbollah. “Hamas is forced to navigate uncharted waters 
post-Arab Spring and it is in its interest to keep all channels open,” says 
Slim.

Military support

The extent of the rupture between Hamas and Al Assad’s regime is underscored 
by the fact that the Palestinian group is allegedly helping train units of 
the rebel Free Syrian Army in several areas of eastern Damascus, according 
to western diplomats and sources in the Syrian opposition.

The training appears to be specialised, focusing on helping the rebels 
develop better rockets and dig tunnels from which they can launch attacks in 
preperation for a widely anticipated offensive to uproot the regime from the 
capital. The Ezzidine Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, has 
extensive experience at building tunnels in the Gaza Strip, some for 
smuggling weapons and goods from neighbouring Egypt, and others to 
infiltrate Israel or launch attacks against Israeli outposts.

“The Qassam Brigades have been training units very close to Damascus — in 
Yalda, Jaramana, Babbila. These are specialists. They are really good,” says 
a western diplomat with high-level contacts in Al Assad’s regime and the 
Syrian opposition who visits Damascus regularly.

A Syrian opposition source who lives in Damascus confirmed that tunnels were 
being dug in some areas under rebel control and that the regime is aware of 
the tactic. The source says that the Syrian army has dug a seven-yard deep 
trench “to cut off any extending tunnel” around the perimeter of Mezzeh 
airport, a key military facility in Damascus, and similar measures have been 
taken around Rawda presidential palace in the centre of the capital.

But a senior Hamas official categorically denied allegations that Hamas 
fighters are training FSA rebels or are involved in any military activities 
in Syria. “Our position is clear on what is happening in Syria and we 
believe there must be a political solution,” says Osama Hamdan, who lives in 
Lebanon.

“There are no members of Ezzidine Al Qassam or any members of Hamas in 
Syria. We don’t interfere in the internal problems of Syria. Our members 
there are normal civilians, Syrian Palestinians, who live with their 
families there. From the beginning of what has happened in Syria we rejected 
as a movement any involvement of any Palestinian in the current events in 
Syria.”

Qatar’s role

For now, Qatar has emerged as Hamas’s new sponsor. Hamas chief Khalid 
Mesha’al lives in the capital Doha, while Hamas has opened offices in Cairo. 
The Gulf state helped cement its relationship with Hamas in October 2012, 
when Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani became the first foreign head of 
state to visit Hamas-run Gaza. During his visit, he pledged $400 million 
(Dh1.46 billion) to the tiny coastal strip.

But while Hamas has abandoned Syria, has it completely renounced its 
relationship with its former sponsor Iran?

Mesha’al admitted last November in an interview with CNN that the Hamas 
relationship with Iran was “affected and harmed” by disagreements over 
Syria, but downplayed its severity. “It is not as it used to be in the past, 
but there is no severing of relations,” he said.

The western analyst says that the break with Iran was “complete and somewhat 
bitter.” But other analysts don’t believe that contacts have been entirely 
broken, partly because Hamas recognises that during such a turbulent period 
in the Middle East, it is in no position to throw in its lot with any one 
particular sponsor. Qatar has proven to be a potentially fickle friend — 
little of the $400 million it pledged Gaza has so far been received.

Even Egypt under President Mohammad Mursi — a member of the Muslim 
Brotherhood, a Hamas ally — has proven disappointing for Hamas so far. The 
Egyptian authorities have blocked smuggling tunnels into Gaza and are more 
preoccupied with internal developments than actively supporting Hamas with 
cash and weapons.

“The distancing from Iran may prove problematic because it leaves Hamas more 
dependent on support from Arab governments that have either proved 
unreliable or whose interests clash with those of Hamas,” says Yezid Sayegh, 
a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut.

“Although Hamas wishes to confirm its Sunni credentials to other Arabs, it 
has tried to reaffirm relations with Iran and deny irreconcilable 
differences over Syria,” Sayegh says.

Indeed, while Iran and Hamas can disagree on the fate of Al Assad’s regime — 
and perhaps actively support opposing sides in that conflict — both parties 
are still united in their opposition to Israel.

“I doubt a complete rupture of relations between Iran and Hamas. It is in 
neither party’s interest,” says Slim of the Middle East Institute. “Iran and 
Hezbollah’s game is always long, nuanced, and strategic. Rarely do they burn 
bridges with former allies. Even with their enemies, they negotiate while 
fighting.”

— Christian Science Monitor





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