Is Iran About to Lose Its Proxy Hamas?
This past week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Ankara for a three-hour meeting, the third between the two within the past year.
The men met behind closed doors. According to an aide speaking on a condition of anonymity, Erdoğan and Mashaal discussed “regional developments.” Commentators have speculated that Hamas might be trying to move its foreign headquarters from Qatar to Turkey.
More likely, however, Mashaal was discussing the financial strain Hamas now feels after Egypt’s recent change in policy toward the enclave of the Gaza strip.
Since 2007, Israel has blocked all transit and all nonessential exports from Gaza in response to the constant, indiscriminate barrage of rockets fired on Israeli citizens from the Strip. But, contrary to most Western media reports, this blockade has not debilitated Hamas’s operations.
The main reason for the blockade’s ineffectiveness is the hundreds of smuggling tunnels between Gaza and its other neighbor, Egypt—some of which are large enough to drive cars through. Hamas profited handsomely from the imports, levying a 14.5 percent “tax” on goods passing through its tunnels.
These smuggling tunnels provided nearly 40 percent of Hamas’s annual budget and employed over 40,000 people.
Recently, however, Egypt’s radical new policy toward Gaza has worked to stop all smuggling trade and, with it, Hamas’s cash flow.
According to Caroline Glick, “The Egyptian military is now fighting Hamas in Sinai. The military-backed government blames the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood branch for fomenting the Islamist insurgency there. Egyptian forces have destroyed much of the tunnel network linking Gaza with Sinai that had enabled the cross-traffic of terrorists and munitions between the areas. This week, Egypt announced plans to demarcate Egypt’s territorial waters along Gaza to prevent the transfer by sea of weapons and terror operatives between them.”
Having effectively cut off both legal and illegal trade into Gaza, Egypt has showed it will no longer tolerate Hamas having its way in the region. In the nine months since January, Egyptians have closed a whopping 794 smuggling tunnels going into Gaza, a spokesperson for the Egyptian Border Police recently said.
By sealing these smuggling tunnels, Egypt is intentionally putting a suffocating financial squeeze on Hamas, to the point that last month, Hamas had to withhold pay to its 50,000 employees.
Hamas is desperate for cash. Its traditional sponsor, Iran, is in no position to immediately help because of its own financial woes.
Could it be that Hamas has now chosen to seek life-sustaining cash flow from one of its moderate friends, Turkey? That would certainly account for the timing of this latest batch of meetings in Ankara.
If Hamas is turning to Turkey for help, is Iran about to lose control of its proxy in Gaza?
The seismic shift in Hamas’s allegiance away from Iran is part of a mysterious prophecy recorded in Psalm 83, which divides the Arab world into two opposing factions. On one side are the African nations flanking the western side of the Red Sea and southern Mediterranean, including Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea. These African nations, along with Iraq, are prophesied to be dominated by Iran. On the other side are the more “moderate” Arab states, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, among others, which will ally themselves with a German-led Europe.
These nations are, for the most part, already aligned in accordance with this prophecy.
However, caught right in the middle of these two camps are the terrorist enclaves of the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon, the territories now ruled by Hamas and Hezbollah respectively.
Historically, these groups have received funding, training, weaponry, and most importantly their leadership from their masters in Iran. They have also received weapons and funding through their terrorist fathers in the Muslim Brotherhood based out of Egypt.
However the very same prophecy in Psalm 83 mentions the Gazan region—former territory of the ancient Philistines—within the context of the alliance that opposes Iran.
For years the Trumpet has watched for the seemingly impossible shift of Hamas’s loyalties from Iran/Egypt to the Saudi/Turkish alliance. The events of the past few months indicate that switch could be at the door. The situation bears vigilance.
View Mashaal’s overtures toward Erdoğan in the context of the regional war in Syria, where Iran supports the Assad regime and Turkey backs the rebels. Perhaps those three hours of discussion in Ankara were about Turkey’s conflict of interest: Hamas is accepting Turkish financial support—yet taking orders from Iran, the country against which the Turks are fighting a proxy war.
Thanks to Egypt’s dramatic, decisive action against Hamas within the framework of the Syrian conflict, time will reveal whether this is the decisive moment when Hamas will depart from its traditional ally, Iran.
Continue to watch how events in the Middle East, especially the war in Syria, polarize the Arab world. Watch how current events in the Middle East will lead to this mysterious alliance mentioned in Psalm 83.