[In a move that indicates both the declining prospects for the Syrian Assad regime, as well as the growing role of the Saudi regime in post-Mubarak Arab alignments, Hamas–which is also busily retooling its relations with the Fatah forces and the Palestine Authority as a whole–has made a significant break in relations with Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran. This deserves some close attention. The revolutionary currents in the Arab world, while not invested in any of these organized and governmental forces, will find in these shifts some openings for their own initiatives, because the controllers of political life on all sides are off balance. In every crisis, opportunities will surface–for those who dare to cast away illusions, rely on the masses, and seize the time. — Frontlines ed.]
By Omar Fahmy and Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters
CAIRO/GAZA, Feb 24 – Leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas turned publicly against their long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, endorsing the revolt aimed at overthrowing his dynastic rule.
The policy shift deprives Assad of one of his few remaining Sunni Muslim supporters in the Arab world and deepens his international isolation. It was announced in Hamas speeches at Friday prayers in Cairo and a rally in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas went public after nearly a year of equivocating as Assad’s army, largely led by fellow members of the president’s Alawite sect, has crushed mainly Sunni protesters and rebels.
In a Middle East split along sectarian lines between Shi’ite and Sunni Islam, the public abandonment of Assad casts immediate questions over Hamas’s future ties with its principal backer Iran, which has stuck by its ally Assad, as well as with Iran’s fellow Shi’ite allies in Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement. Continue reading