Turkey, Egypt and Hamas
By: Rajab Bou Serriyeh Translated from Al-Ayyam (P.A.).
After a long absence, Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas' political bureau, made an appearance in Ankara with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. This seemed to be an attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership to support Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Opinion polls have shown that Erdogan's popularity rating has dropped in Turkey.
About This Article
In Ankara, Mohammed Morsi, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Khaled Meshaal all came together as faces of Islamist parties from the Muslim world. Rajab Bou Serriyeh writes that all three need each other to bolster their legitimacy at home.Publisher: Al-Ayyam (P.A.)
Presidential War Within Hamas
Author: Rajab Bou Serriyeh
First Published: October 5, 2012
Posted on: October 5 2012
Translated by: Joelle El-Khoury
Categories : Palestinian Authority
Surprisingly, Meshaal announced not only that he won't run for the presidency of Hamas — after leading the movement for over sixteen years — but he also spoke out against the Syrian regime. This statement deviates sharply from his own prior stance and marks the first explicit declaration of Hamas’ position. Previously, Hamas had maintained a position of compromise between the regime and the revolution in Syria.
Since Turkey is Syria's most important neighbor and an important regional backer of the Syrian revolution, the appearance of Morsi and Meshaal with Erdogan in Ankara represents a strong declaration that the Muslim Brotherhood is siding with the Syrian people. It demonstrates that the Sunni political centers of power in the region are united — along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar — against the Syrian regime.
The Ankara visit by Morsi and Meshaal may bolster Erdogan's chances of reelection in Turkey, but also underscores how much the three political leaders need each other to strengthen their positions within their own political movements.
This is because — assuming Meshaal's announcement that he won't seek the presidency of Hamas isn't just an effort to exert pressure on his opponents and competitors within the movement — Morsi faces a parallel situation, as a dispute grows between Morsi and Khairat al-Shater, the Brotherhood’s deputy supreme guide and its most powerful leader. Shater was the Brotherhood’s initial candidate for the presidency; Morsi only entered the race as a secondary candidate, after an intense battle against the late Omar Suleiman.
Morsi aims to enhance his position within the Egyptian Brotherhood and and bolster his power, without appearing to take instructions from the supreme guide, his deputy or the general guidance bureau. Meshaal wants to increase his chances of remaining the head of the Hamas movement, so that the presidency remains under the influence of his associates and his alliance with Moussa Abu Marzouk.
It is crucial for Hamas that Meshaal be seen with with both Erdogan and Morsi. The result was a clear and explicit position regarding the Syrian regime. That took the decision on Hamas's position toward Syria out of the hands of Ismail Haniyeh, who has been Meshaal's closest associate in recent years.
With Hamas set to choose its new president in about a month, the change in Meshaal’s position regarding Syria will be a factor in Hamas's presidential elections. If Haniyeh is relying on his alliance with Erdogan and Morsi as well as the tunnels economy, Abu Marzouk’s statements — which coincided with Meshaal declaring in Ankara his support for Gaza's proposed free-trade zone in Rafah, which supporters say will put $3 billion into Egypt's economy — demonstrates that the two men are allies. They are coordinating their positions and each one of them wants himself to be placed first in the battle for the presidency.
Meshaal's Ankara statements and other comments by Abu Marzouk regarding the free-trade zone underscores how Hamas's regional alliances have played a role in the battle for the Hamas presidency. That battle is affected internally by the tunnels economy and externally by ties with Egypt and Turkey.
Egypt, meanwhile, is building a new power base in the region, by strengthening ties with Ankara and supporting Turkey's position on the Syrian revolution. Under the Mubarak regime, Egypt was a key ally of Saudi Arabia. However, under the Brotherhood, Egypt would prefer a new regional power structure that includes Turkey and the Brotherhood in Syria. Turkey, Egypt, and Hamas would like to see the Brotherhood play a central role in Syrian politics in a post-Assad era. The alliance also strengthens the Brotherhood in Syria, which has seen its stature decrease in recent months compared to the Salafists and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Both the Salafists and the FSA could become power centers in a new Syrian regime post-Assad if the situation on the ground remains unchanged.
The region remains unstable. It wasn’t stable before autocratic governments fell, nor is it stable today. The Brotherhood has its sights not only on ruling Egypt, but on the entire region. As a result, they have focused on forming political alliances with Sunni forces. The Brotherhood would likely choose Turkey and Ennahda in Tunisia as its top-choice allies, rather than the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia and the Salafists, particularly those who are still influenced by al-Qaeda. That approach helps maintain their alliance with Washington.
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