Monday, February 27, 2012

Hamas breaks publicly with the Assad Regime in Syria; Agrees Unity Government with Arch-Rival Fatah

In an interesting sign of which way the winds are blowing in the perception of the anti-Assad revolt in Syria, longtime Syrian ally Hamas has publicly broken with the Assad regime.  Hamas has long had its headquarters in Damascus, and has been considered to be a part of a group called the "axis of resistance" that includes Iran, Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon.  The group's principles have included implacable opposition to the existence of Israel and opposition to a negotiated peace.  Iran in particular has used the other members of the group to project its influence across the Middle East.

With the advent of the Arab Spring, as well as the revolt against Assad, Hamas has come under greater pressure.  Its leadership recently greatly downscaled its presence in its exile headquarters in Damascus, and now Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has officially come out against the Assad regime.  In addition, Hamas has also just recently agreed with its arch-rival Fatah to form a unity government with Fatah Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas as its head.  With these two steps, it appears as though the "axis of resistance" may have lost one of its founding members.  Indeed, there has been much speculation that Hamas and Iran - one of Hamas' primary supporters and source of funds - may be drifting apart.       

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