Iran Gives Hamas Enthusiastic Support, but Discreetly, Just in Case

[New York Times] Michael Slackman - While the fighting continues in Gaza and negotiations for a cease-fire take place in Egypt, officials in Iran are treading carefully because they, too, have a great deal at stake. Iran is trying to position itself as the regional superpower, while also trying to generate maximum leverage before expected talks with the incoming Obama administration. To achieve those goals, though, Iran needs Hamas to declare at least a moral victory in its war with Israel. Then, Israel and Washington's Arab allies would be weakened, and without Iran's having to get involved in battle. A Hamas defeat by Israel would deprive Iran not only of a valuable proxy force on the border with Israel but of a trump card to play with Washington, and it would further alienate it from the leadership of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Hamas, a pariah to Egypt and Jordan, has received money and training from Iran, while the group has provided Iran with a powerful surrogate to undermine American and Israeli interests in the region.

2009-01-13 06:00:00

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