Hamas’s Real Enemies

JERUSALEM – In Iran, elements from within the regime are reportedly offering a $1 million reward for the assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak because of his opposition to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In Lebanon, the leader of Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria, merely calls for the Egyptian government’s overthrow.

In response to this, Tariq Alhomayed, a Saudi who is editor-in-chief of the newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat , describes Hamas as Iran’s tool, and argues that “Iran is a real threat to Arab security.”

Egypt’s foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, agrees – and he is not alone. When Arab states met to discuss the Gaza crisis, Saudi Arabia vetoed any action. Even the Palestinian Authority (PA) blames Hamas for the fighting. Activists in Fatah, Hamas’s nationalist rival which runs the PA, make no secret of their hope that Hamas loses the war.

Welcome to the new Middle East, characterized no longer by the Arab-Israeli conflict, but by an Arab nationalist-Islamist conflict. Recognizing this reality, virtually all Arab states – other than Iran’s ally, Syria – and the PA want to see Hamas defeated in the Gaza Strip. Given their strong self-interest in thwarting Islamist revolutionary groups, especially those aligned with Iran, they are not inclined to listen to the “Arab street” – which is far quieter than it was during previous conflicts, such as the 1991 war in Kuwait, the 2000-2004 Palestinian uprising, or the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.