The Palestinian Issue is slowly becoming something of the past. In a constantly changing world, the role of the “Palestinian liberation movements” has been gradually being exposed as part of something greater than fighting Israel. The Jerusalem Post reported that Iran is considering to deploy Hamas to fight the Islamic State in Mosul, and the Kurdish forces, in Kirkuk – if confirmed, it is quite a development but should Hamas accept to play such a role, and what does it mean for Israel?
From a Sunni Proxy to a Shiite One
Ever since Egypt started its campaign against Hamas (through the destruction of tunnels and an ever increased border control), the economy of the Gaza Strip has suffered quite a lot – especially because the ruling Hybrid Terrorist Group seems to have miscalculated the relevance that the “Palestinian Cause” would continue to have to Arab nations over time, particularly in a scenario where the West would react to several political circumstances by getting cosy with Iran – therefore, Hamas failed to anticipate major political changes in the region and to adjust their source of income accordingly.
Turkey has been negotiating a normalisation of ties with Israel; Bahrain and Oman have been more open to the idea and have sent interesting signs of overture towards the Jewish State; Saudi Arabia is already talking about opening an embassy in Israel; Kuwaiti voices call for an end of the charade and Qatar is still seeing in which direction the tide is going. So, a priori, it seems like Iran is the only option left; however, Hamas must be careful with this appearance because the Ayatollahs may have an agenda of their own.
Dividing Gaza to Conquer
Iran's natural proxy, in the Gaza Strip, has been the Islamic Jihad. This group has, for years, been giving huge headaches to Hamas. More recently, Hamas has had also to deal with IS elements within the Strip trying to establish a presence there, and topple the ruling group. Therefore, we have the Islamic Jihad and IS vying for Gaza.
Deploying Hamas to Mosul and Kirkuk would serve a multi-layer of interests:
- Hamas militants would expand their warfare experience (since they have grown accustomed to the urban warfare that includes booby trapping buildings, digging and operating from tunnels, limiting thus their ability to fight in the open air – in case the masterminds' plan is to have them infiltrating and fighting in both the Negev and the Sinai)
- Hamas operatives would transmit their specific warfare skills and the lessons learned from successive wars with Israel (this country's behaviour, time of response etc) to other fighters
- Weaken Hamas by diverting their militants from Gaza to Iraq and Kurdistan
- Give, thus, a chance to the Islamic Jihad to try to topple them and create an Iranian foothold in the Strip
- Deal a severe blow to the Turkish sphere of influence by removing one more 'ally' from it.
The Brigades of Izz al-Din al-Qassam and Basij are under the command of Iran, not under the command of Khalid Mash’al or Isma’il Haniya. If some countries wish to bribe the leaders of Palestine, the Brigades are under the order of Iran. - Iranian PM Javad Karimi Quddusi, 2012 (source)
If Iran is indeed trying to sabotage Hamas, we have to wonder whether the reason for it lies in frustration over the group's successive failures in dealing a severe blow – i.e. causing severe losses – to Israel or if it rests on the fact that Hamas has been targeting Shiite elements in the Strip in the last couple of years (surely as a result of the competition between them and the Islamic Jihad).
It would not be in Hamas' interest to accept Iran's proposal because, as appealing as the financial support may be, it would weaken the group and it could be a ploy to have it replaced by the Islamic Jihad (which historically has been the only group who has been open and unconditionally supportive of Iran and of the Shiites). Under the spirit of Islamic cooperation, Iran is seeking to spread its wings even more and increase its sphere of influence in the Middle East. To that end, it is more than willing to sacrifice old alliances and replace them with groups who are more aligned with their Islamic vision.
The Jewish State should follow this situation even more closely inasmuch as, for the time being, it is more interesting to keep Hamas in power than having a much more loyal Iranian proxy destabilising Gaza first and then proceeding with the plan to obliterate Medinat Yisrael.
[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]