Monday, February 11, 2013

Morsi’s Hamas Connection

Morsi’s Hamas Connection

Jonathan S. Tobin  

Apologists for the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt have spent much of the last year attempting to argue that the Islamist movement is not the extremist group its critics make it out to be. They claim it is not only moderate in its religious views but that it is a pragmatic organization that can be a stabilizing force in the region. The whitewash of the Brotherhood’s ideology is made possible by both the general ignorance of the American people about the group’s origins and its beliefs as well as by the willingness of many in the American media to buy into the transparent propaganda they’ve been fed about their goals. However, the hate speech of President Mohamed Morsi and his putsch to seize total power in the manner of his authoritarian predecessor Hosni Mubarak, as well as the group’s efforts to impose their version of sharia law on the rest of Egyptian society, should have cured them of their ignorance.

But the latest evidence of the radical nature of the Brotherhood government comes from its ally Hamas. Under Morsi, Egypt has become a helpful friend to the Gaza regime, a marked change from the hostility that Mubarak demonstrated toward it. But as Khaled Abu Toameh reports at the Gatestone Institute website, friendship between the Brotherhood and Hamas is a two-way street. He reports that Egyptian media outlets are saying that a large number of Hamas militiamen may have crossed from Gaza into Sinai in the last week and then headed to various Egyptian cities to help the Brotherhood suppress pro-democracy and anti-Islamist protests that have broken out across the country. If true, this not only means that the ties between the supposed “moderates” of the Brotherhood and the terrorists of Hamas are closer than ever, but that Morsi is seeking to use these killers as a counter-force against possible action by the Egyptian army to check his attempt to seize total power.

That operatives of a group that is labeled by the United States as a terrorist group may have become the shock troops of the leader of an allied country like Egypt may be shocking to many Americans. But it will come as no surprise to anyone who is aware that Hamas was founded as an offshoot of the Egyptian Islamist movement. The connection between the two groups as well as their supporters in other Muslim countries is no secret. As Abu Toameh writes:

This week, a Gulf newspaper Akhbar Al-Khaleej published what it described as “secret documents” proving that Hamas, with the financial backing of Qatar, had plans to send hundreds of militiamen to Egypt to help Morsi’s regime.

One of the classified documents, signed by Hamas’s armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam, talks about the need to send “warriors to help our brothers in Egypt who are facing attempts by the former regime [of Hosni Mubarak] to return to power.”

The alliance between Hamas and the Brotherhood has great advantages for both groups.

Morsi’s Egyptian followers may be highly organized, but they lack the experience in street violence and terror that Hamas members have. They also may have scruples about killing and torturing fellow Egyptians. The Palestinians are used to ruthlessly suppressing dissent in Gaza. Hamas staged a bloody coup in 2006 to oust Fatah from control there and thus knows what it stakes to secure power.

On the other hand, Hamas’s stock among Palestinians has risen markedly since the Brotherhood took power. Egypt no longer enforces the blockade of Gaza. Rather than worrying about holding onto Gaza, as they may have done when they were locked in a vise between the Israelis and Mubarak’s Egypt, they are now thinking seriously about how best to wrest control of the West Bank from their Palestinian rivals.

The Hamas connection should send a chill down the spines of anyone who still held onto hope that the Arab Spring would produce more, rather than less, freedom for Egypt. But it should also remind Americans that they are still sending more than $1 billion a year in U.S. aid and selling F-16 aircraft to Morsi’s Egypt. Members of Congress who continue to back this foolish policy need to ask themselves whether it makes sense to funnel taxpayer dollars to Egypt in the hope of supporting regional stability if what they are really doing is bolstering a government that depends on Hamas terrorists to stay in power.