Hamas' International Strategy Works

[American Enterprise Institute] Michael Rubin - Hamas is not autonomous. Saudi donors helped launch the group in 1987 and provided a steady flow of cash until at least 2004. In October 2002, the World Association of Muslim Youth made Khalid Meshaal, the Hamas Political Bureau chief and an unapologetic advocate of terrorism, a guest-of-honor at its annual convention in Riyadh. After Saudi authorities, worried about blowback, cracked down on funding Sunni extremists, Iranian authorities picked up the slack. Canadian intelligence estimates that Tehran provides Hamas up to $18 million per year and welcomes Hamas fighters into its Revolutionary Guards training camps. Where does Hamas stand a year into its tenure? Hamas has succeeded in convincing some governments that it now deserves legitimacy. European officials and many non-governmental organizations insisted that the Western world had an obligation to fund Palestinian relief even though, with money fungible, such assistance mitigated pressure upon Hamas and enabled it to spend more on weapons. European equivalence signals Hamas' sponsors that their strategy works. Washington, however, has given Hamas and its radical sponsors perhaps their greatest victory. Not only did the Bush administration fail to insist that forfeiture of armed political party militias should be among the ground rules for legitimate democratic participation, thus allowing a Trojan horse into the election, but once the scale of Hamas' victory became known the White House rewarded Middle Eastern terrorist groups and their sponsors with an effective abandonment of the Bush democracy agenda. Arab states and Iran have used Hamas to revert to a comfortable state of affairs in which they pay rhetorical heed to Palestinian political demands but, in practice, are indifferent. They fund terrorism that prolongs conflict and causes the Palestinians to further spiral into a morass. Their investment in Hamas has paid huge dividends. It will not end the Jewish state but, for the region's kings, hereditary presidents and ayatollahs, it sidetracks the far more worrisome agenda of democratization, reform, and accountability. The writer is a resident scholar at AEI.

2007-02-09 01:00:00

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