Monitor Mideast

The Rift Within: Will Hamas Defend Syria?

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The emerging rift between the political and military arm of Hamas in light of recent calls for an attack or invasion on Syria has the organization in disarray, Kuwaiti daily Al-Anba reports. Recently, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas vowed to stand by Syria during an act of aggression by foreign powers.


Hamas’ political arm, which has aligned itself with Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and against Iran and Syria reacted strongly against these calls by its own militia.  As disagreements grew, the military leadership declared their willingness to break loose from the political leadership abroad, referring to Khaled Mesh’al. It triggered mass resentment from the Hamas’ political chief, who underlined the mandate of the Al-Qassam Brigades to follow the Hamas leadership unconditionally.


Even within Hamas’ political organization, senior members such as Imad al-Alami and Mahmoud al-Zahar dispute Mesh’al and Haniyah’s alignment with Qatar. The former two served as prominent members influencing key positions within the political and military wing in addition to playing a pivotal role in sustaining relations with Iran and Hezbollah after the fallout with Assad.


In more recent months, fighters of the military wing in Gaza erected banners near the border with Israel bearing words of Thanks to Tehran in Arabic, English, Farsi and Hebrew. The military wing intended to thank Iran for its recent assistance during the conflict in Gaza, despite the fallout with the Syrian government by the Hamas political bureau. The symbolic gesture turned into a fiasco after some members of the political arm attempted to remove the banners. What followed was an intervention of Al-Qassam military personnel who then prevented the removal.


In light of these developments, Zahar and a number of senior cohorts within the political arm are deemed more in line with the Al-Qassam Brigades, spawning discussions on a Hamas leadership reshuffle and whether it will support Syria during an act of aggression.