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Monday, February 27, 2012

How Hamas Break From Syria Undermines Assad

Now it seems official--Hamas has broken with Syria:
The Hamas prime minister of Gaza on Friday expressed support for Syrian protesters seeking to overthrow President Bashar Assad, the first time a senior Hamas leader has publicly rebuked the group’s longtime patron.

Ismail Haniyeh said after Friday prayers at Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque that Hamas commends "the brave Syrian people that are moving toward democracy and reform."
The question that remains is what are the actual consequences of Haniyeh openly declaring the Hamas split from Assad's Syria.

Max Boot quotes the analysis of a friend who writes that Hamas’s Desertion of Assad is Body Blow.

First, Haniyeh's support as an Arab Palestinian leader for the Syrian protesters belies Assad's claim to be the protector of Palestinians and their interests:
When the party that is the Palestinian resistance chooses to desert Assad’s regime, the regime’s resistance and pro-Palestine narrative collapses–and that is what [Ismail] Haniyeh’s speech yesterday accomplished.
In more concrete terms, Syria now loses the ability to maintain military pressure and threats against Israel on multiple fronts:
the Syrian regime no longer has two fronts with which to confront Israel–Gaza is now lost to them. Perhaps gone, too, are the Palestinian camps of Lebanon, which for decades have been a weapon the Syrian regime could use to manufacture violent crises at its convenience. Without Hamas’s cooperation, it would be extremely difficult for the Syrians to provoke a crisis in the Lebanese camps, especially since their main proxy, the PFLP-GC, lost its credibility after busing young Palestinians to the Israeli border to be shot at by Israeli troops.
Read the whole thing.

While losing support in the Muslim world further alienates Syria and adds additional nails to the coffin of the Assad regime, by limiting the influence of the Assad regime beyond its borders the declining support for Assad also has a stabilizing effect.

That stabilizing effect is only increased to the extent the the diminishing influence of Syria diminishes the influence of Iran in the region as well.

While one can argue about the democratizing influence of the Arab Spring in the region, in undercutting the Syrian regime the Arab Spring may finally be living up to its potential to lend stability--even at a time that it is arguably not increasing the prospects for the spread of democracy.

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