Home inContext Arab Leaders Show Contempt for Hamas Militancy

Arab Leaders Show Contempt for Hamas Militancy

Yael Rein

Recent failed ceasefire agreements between Israel and Hamas highlight changing political trends that are rebalancing alliances across the Middle East. While Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have given Hamas a cold shoulder, other ostensible American allies, such as Turkey and Qatar, have become Hamas’s main political supporters.

Egypt surprised Hamas, its former ally under President Morsi, by presenting a ceasefire deal in mid-July that ignored many of the terrorist organization’s demands but met most of Israel’s. The day after the failed agreement was formulated, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi mentioned in a statement that his country did not blame Israel for the agreement’s unraveling. Earlier this year, a Cairo court barred Hamas from operating in Egypt, following terror attacks across Egypt and the Sinai. Members of the organization have been prohibited from visiting Egypt, with frequent closures of the Rafah border crossing into Gaza.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. (Photo: AP)

In March, Egypt announced that it had destroyed 1,370 tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border that had been used for smuggling fuel and weapons and accounted for most of Hamas’s revenues, and the practice has continued through the recent firing. However, Egyptian officials, mindful of civilian needs, recently allowed the Red Crescent to deliver medical aid and other supplies.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah called the Egyptian president to praise his proposal. Additionally, Turki al-Faisal, the former head of Saudi intelligence, declared that Hamas is fully responsible for the deaths of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Hamas representatives also decided to disregard Jordanian and UAE officials during recent negotiations.

Due to the shift in political dynamics in the Middle East, Washington has turned to more Islamist-friendly countries such as Qatar and Turkey to act as alternative mediators. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri told reporters on July 17th that “the Hamas-Qatar-Turkey axis is trying to abort Egypt’s role” in the region. Ultimately, the shift in political alliances in the Middle East may sideline traditional regional powers.