In the shifting sands of the tumultuous Middle
East, Hamas, the Palestinian terror group in control of the Gaza Strip, has
found itself in an increasingly precarious position.
Click photo to download. Caption: Palestinians gather during a demonstration in support of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in the Hamas-controlled southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on August 23, 2013. The removal of Morsi–a president from Hamas’s parent group, the Muslim Brotherhood–creates “serious problems for Hamas,” Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said. Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90.
Feared for its massive arsenal of rockets and
trained jihadis, the terror group is today also facing isolation and internal
discord. With its Muslim Brotherhood allies on the run in Egypt, strained
relations with former benefactors in Iran and Syria, and an increasingly
technologically savvy Israeli enemy, the terror organization–while still
dangerous–is facing a perfect storm of problems that threatens to undermine its
“While one cannot
currently say Islamist groups like Hamas
are completely down and out, the removal of [Mohamed] Morsi’s government in
Egypt and the subsequent crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood leadership, as well as
the Muslim on Muslim fighting in Syria, together create serious problems for
Hamas,” Matthew Levitt, senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on
Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institution for Near East
Policy, told JNS.org.
For many years, Hamas
relied on Iran and its partners, Syria and Hezbollah, for military hardware
such as rocket missiles, terrorist training, and financial support. It is
estimated that Hamas at one point received up to $250 million annually from
Iran. But all that changed following exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s
decision to close the Hamas office in Damascus in early 2012 and to pursue
support from Sunni powers such as Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood in
Egypt, all of which were on the rise at the time.
believe Iran’s aid to Hamas has been significantly reduced following the two
parties’ fallout over Syria.
between Sunni Hamas and Shi’a Iran has always been united around their mutual
hatred of Israel. In a region that is increasingly split between Sunni and
Shi’a forces, Hamas somehow managed to bridge the deep theological divide
between the two major Islamic sects. But in today’s increasingly polarized
Middle East, with Sunni and Shi’a forces squared off in a bloody battle for the
future of Syria and further tensions in Lebanon, Iraq, and in the Persian Gulf,
Hamas has become the odd man out.
“They [Hamas] are now
largely isolated. They don’t have Egypt or Syria and their relationship with
Hezbollah and Iran is deeply strained, though not completely broken,” Levitt