Iran's Hamas Strategy

[Wall Street Journal] Reuel Marc Gerecht - With strong ties to its fundamentalist brethren along the Nile, Hamas has given Iran (really for the first time, and so far at little cost) an important ally within the fundamentalist circles of the Muslim Brotherhood. One of the Islamic revolution's great disappointments was that it failed to produce more allies within the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and its many offshoots. With Hamas, the mullahs have a chance of supplanting Saudi Arabia, the font of the most vicious anti-Shiite Sunni creed, as the most reliable backer of Palestinian fundamentalists. Even more than the Lebanese Hizbullah, which remains tied to and constrained by the complex matrix of Lebanese politics, Hamas seems willing to absorb enormous losses to continue its jihad against Israel. Where Saudi Arabia has been uneasy about the internecine strife among Palestinians - it has bankrolled both Hamas and the PA of Mahmoud Abbas - Iran has put its money on the former. Through Hamas, Tehran can possibly reach the ultimate prize, the Egyptian faithful. For reasons both ancient and modern, Egypt has perhaps the most Shiite-sympathetic religious identity in the Sunni Arab world. As long as Hamas remains the center of the Palestinian imagination - and unless Hamas loses its military grip on Gaza, it will continue to command the attention of both the Arab and Western media - Egypt's politics remain fluid and potentially volatile. The writer, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

2009-01-08 06:00:00

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