By Sharmine Narwani
There is something quite unique about the Middle East’s “Resistance Axis” which includes Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, Hamas and a smattering of smaller groups opposed to western imperialism and zionism.
It is the only major grouping or alliance in the region that includes 1) Arab and Iranian, 2) Sunni and Shia, 3) Islamist and Secularist.
People in this part of the world use communal and political affiliations as a calling card. First name, last name, village of origin, neighborhood, school, mosque, church, group of friends, reading material…all of these things are a quick measure of “identity.”
This emotional link to community has often been exploited as a useful political tool to split people across national, political and religious lines. I have written before about these three “Mideast Stink Bombs,” cleverly wielded by dictators, religious extremists and western hegemonists to “divide-and-rule” the region’s populations to advantage.
The Resistance Axis poses an existential threat to these antagonists, whose very authority depends on vilifying the “Other:” the longterm Saudi project to demonize the Shia/Iran; pro-US autocrats and monarchies using “radical Islam” as an excuse to exclude moderate Islamists from the political process; manufacturing an Iranian “nuclear threat” to isolate a foe and justify weapons sales and military build-ups.
Instead, the rather successful alliance of Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah annihilates the argument that these “differences” are unbreachable fault lines in the Middle East. We can see with our own eyes, that here – standing strong and supportive in the face of common external foes – are Shiite, Sunni, Islamist, Secularist, Arab and Iranian.
Wrenching Away Our Sunni
So it is not at all surprising that the moment the Arab Spring touched a member of this Axis – Syria –all hands came on board to exploit any vulnerabilities and crow about the imminent break-up of the Resistance.
I recall the Wall Street Journal first breaking the Hamas-defecting-from-Axis story – it was called: Hamas Removing Staff From Syria – that bit was true. The next two paragraphs, however, greedily projected on the storyline: “The Islamic militant group’s parting of ways with Mr. Assad…” and the even more ambitious “Leaving Syria also distances Hamas from Iran…”
Plenty of Hamas officials went on the record denying a break with Syria and Iran, but the WSJ story grew legs, arms and heads. Not many western journalists rushed to cover the visit of Hamas’ top official in Gaza travelling to Iran afterward. But they went full-court press when the very same Ismail Hanniyeh addressed a select crowd inside Cairo’s Al Azhar Mosque, saying: “I salute all people of the Arab Spring, or Islamic winter, and I salute the Syrian people who seek freedom, democracy and reform.”
The New York Times’ unabashed interpretation of that solitary quote leads its breaking story: “A leader of Hamas spoke out against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, throwing its support behind the opposition…”
Actually, no. Assad and Iran and Russia and China also claim to support freedom, democracy and reform for the Syrian people. They are just as vague about from whence this freedom, democracy and reform will come as was Hanniyeh during his Friday Prayer sermon.
So where exactly does Hamas stand on Resistance? And what does this mean for the future of the group and the geopolitics of the region? (more…)
One Response »