Signs that Hamas Is Losing Its Grip on Gaza

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Ehud Yaari - Hamas is in the throes of one of its most testing crises ever. Over the past year, all of its major pillars of support have eroded to one degree or another, while internally, the movement is split by acute policy differences. The most painful loss for Hamas came next door in Egypt, where President Morsi was ousted and the group's parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, was defeated in the struggle for power. Top Brotherhood figure Khairat al-Shater - a millionaire, now imprisoned - made significant financial donations to the Gaza government, while Morsi allowed Hamas to open offices in Cairo. The new authorities in Cairo now treat Hamas as a hostile adversary, accusing it of fomenting rapid security deterioration in the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian military has effectively closed hundreds of smuggling tunnels and Egyptian helicopters are gathering intelligence over Gaza's southern sector after receiving a quiet nod from Israel. Meanwhile, the Egyptian media has adopted a fiery anti-Hamas tone. Earlier, by siding with the uprising against the Assad regime, Hamas was forced to evacuate its large headquarters in Damascus, while Hizbullah suspended all bilateral military arrangements - including weapons supplies, training, and intelligence exchange. Even more devastating for Hamas is its strained relationship with Iran, which for years served as the group's primary financial sponsor and main provider of long-range missiles. Tehran has substantially reduced its monthly subsidy to the Gaza government. Turkey and Qatar have failed to comply fully with their past pledges as well. Internally, power is quickly shifting from veteran leaders to the Hamas members released from Israeli jails last year in exchange for hostage Gilad Shalit. The writer is a fellow with The Washington Institute and a Middle East commentator for Israel's Channel Two television.

2013-08-02 00:00:00

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