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Dahlan and Hamas

Jun 20,2017 - Last updated at Jun 20,2017

It seems that the unthinkable is about to take place. 

Reports that Mohammed Dahlan — a fierce foe of Hamas — is moving slowly but surely to forge a new alliance with Hamas to jointly run Gaza are going viral.

The midwife of this new rapprochement between Dahlan and Hamas is Egypt.

These reports state that representatives of Hamas met the Egyptian intelligence chief and discussed a new approach to lift the siege imposed on Gaza for years.

They agreed to have Dahlan chair a committee in charge of Gaza affairs. As a quid pro quo, Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt will be open and Egypt will increase electricity supply to Gaza.

According to the leaked deal, Hamas will run the internal affairs, leaving Dahlan to coordinate with Egypt and Israel to secure lifting the siege and security.

But Hamas is also to beef up its forces on the Egyptian-Gaza border to help prevent terrorists passing from Gaza into Sinai.

The committee will be financed by taxes being collected in Gaza. But I also assume that given Dahlan’s special ties with the United Arab Emirates, he will manage to secure big financial aid.

And, perhaps, the Emirates will replace Qatar as the funder of Gaza.

If this to materialise, Gaza will be on a slippery road to break off completely with the West Bank.

Dahlan — also a bitter rival of Mahmoud Abbas — is to finally enjoy a foothold in Gaza.

Two decades ago, Dahlan was the strong man of Gaza who chased Hamas activists. But since 2006, Hamas is the ultimate master of Gaza, as Fateh was driven out.

However, Palestinians’ alliances are always on shifting sand; Dahlan seeks to oust the Palestinian president under the pretext that Abbas’ presidency has long expired.

One does not know yet if the reports are only trial balloons. And yet, it is obvious that Hamas is facing a dilemma, especially after the eruption of the Gulf crisis and Donald Trump’s celebrated visit to Saudi Arabia.

There is a new tendency in the region to paint Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist groups, and this could be detrimental to Hamas’ ability to survive. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Hamas should turn to Egypt to get off the hook.

It is not a secret anymore that Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia seek to drive a wedge between Hamas and Qatar.

They want Hamas to understand that Qatar is no longer a reliable anchor for the movement.

Explicit in their statements and policies is that Hamas is to be designated as a terrorist group, a step that could potentially further emasculate the movement.

Although a break between Qatar and Hamas could lead to an undesirable outcome — driving Hams into Iran’s orbit — these countries seem to be willing to play this gambit.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Hamas is not on the list of terrorists that was adopted by Egypt, Bahrain, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Obviously, they still want to lure Hams to work with Dahlan.

To be sure, Dahlan is set to gain more if this arrangement continues unchecked. He has left no stone unturned to assume a leading position in Palestine.

Of course, his move can catapult him to prominence and Israel can celebrate that Dahlan is a man to be relied on, but Gaza and the West Bank are to go separate directions.



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