What the Hamas Victory Means for the Middle East
The success of Hamas in Palestinian elections last week stunned the world. Hamas didn’t just win parliamentary seats—it took over the government! This terrorist group won a decisive 74 out of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, which gives it the right to form the Palestinian government.
The electoral victory of Hamas is both shocking and sobering (particularly for those seeking peace in Israel). With all the hoopla surrounding Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian territories, however, it’s important we don’t ignore the broader implications of this event, and how it typifies an alarming trend emerging across the Middle East.
Anti-American, anti-Semitic, Islamist governments are coming to power across the region.
Writing in his Intelligence Review this week, respected analyst Joseph de Courcy outlined the significance of this shift toward Islamist governments. “[T]he more important issue is the extent to which the Palestinian turn to Islamism reflects a wider regional trend—and what this means for stability in the Middle East” (February 2, emphasis ours throughout).
Consider the shifts toward Islamist majorities in government that occurred as a result of reasonably free and fair elections, not just in the Palestinian territories but in Iraq. In Egypt, despite the government’s heavy-handed tactics trying to limit their effectiveness, candidates from the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood won 20 percent of the parlimentary seats, emerging as Egypt’s largest opposition party. De Courcy drew attention to other nations where Islamist parties could make significant gains in the coming month, including Syria, and, further afield, Morocco.
According to de Courcy, the region’s most moderate country could be directly impacted by Hamas’s success: “The country that is most at risk is Jordan where Hamas has closer links with Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamic Action Front (iaf) political wing.”
Analysts at think-tank Stratfor also drew attention to this strong trend in the Middle East: “[T]he Palestinian election, by its own rights, has had a stunning effect throughout the Muslim world and beyond.
“States such as Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia—where calls for democratic reform exist with varying degrees of maturity—are likely assessing Fatah’s defeat in some detail” (February 2). While Stratfor wasn’t stating that all these nations would see religious revolutions, it did say that “it must be noted that the cycle of change is irreversible and will have a major impact on the rest of the region—especially as the Bush administration is continuing with its own push for democracy there.”
In the article quoted above, de Courcy exposed the nation driving this region-wide shift toward Islamic governments: Iran. “[F]eeding into all this is Iran,” he wrote.
Stratfor even noted that the “character of the region” is slowly changing (op. cit.). As the Palestinian elections prove, democracy is facilitating the rise of Islamic governments all around Jerusalem. The Middle East is witnessing a region-wide embracing of Islamist leadership and law. And orchestrating it all is Iran!
No nation was more excited about the Hamas election victory than Iran. Tehran has sponsored and financed Middle Eastern terrorist groups for decades, and Hamas is near the top of the list.
The election of Hamas was a great victory for Iran. Through Hamas, Iran, the world’s number-one terrorist-sponsoring nation and one of the world’s most anti-Semitic nations, now has a much firmer foothold in Israel.
After Hamas’s victory, the leader of Israel’s Likud party, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated, “The state of Hamastan has been created in front of our very eyes, a satellite of Iran, in the image of the Taliban” (Inter Press Service, January 27). That statement is absolutely right!
Netanyahu put a lot of the blame on Israel’s “policy of unreciprocated withdrawals”—like the retreat from the Gaza Strip. He called this policy “a reward to Hamas terror” (ibid.). That is certainly how the Arabs see it! Israel’s political weakness helped bring the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas to power.
On January 22, Israel’s Arutz Sheva reported a meeting that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held in Syria with representatives of Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Israeli Defense Minister Sha’ul Mofaz labeled it a “summit of terror.” He said Ahmadinejad called the meeting “to be sure that the terrorism against Israel would not slow down for a moment, and would even increase.” This is what Hamas leaders were doing just days before their electoral victory!
But Tehran does more than just cheer these groups on. There is abundant proof that Iran provides weapons to Hezbollah and supports it with financial aid to the tune of about $100 million per year. Iran gave about $10 million to the pa-based Islamic Jihad in 2005—about twice as much as it did in 2004. Iran’s support of Palestinian terrorist groups is growing.
Over the years, Tehran has worked hard to position its henchmen in and around Israel. Its efforts are paying off. Hamas now controls the strategic Gaza Strip and major parts of the West Bank—and dominates Palestinian politics! Hezbollah has grown into a highly organized, well-armed, well-financed organization in neighboring Lebanon. To the south, in Egypt, the Iran-friendly Muslim Brotherhood is growing increasingly popular.
And as we have seen, over the next few months it is quite likely that Islamic parties could gain significant influence in a number of other nations in the region. Israel is being surrounded, literally, by national governments that are heavily influenced, if not run, by Islamic political parties. And Iran is orchestrating it all!