Who benefits from the fall of Hamas? [Archives:2006/953/Opinion]

June 8 2006

By: Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh
It seems that an answer to this question does not require much thought and it can be produced by the tongues of Hamas' opponents before its supporters give an answer. The answer is that the real beneficiary will none other than the Israeli government and its supporters. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, and other Palestinian factions will be the first to lose and not merely in areas related to the peaceful transfer of power through elections. The inevitable loss will be in the form of political disorder in Palestine and at the Arab and international levels due to a lack of confidence. The scene may be similar to what happened in Algeria when the military-backed state deprived the Islamist Salvation Front (FIS) of their expected electoral victory. Hamas has been judicious in avoiding a repeat of the errors that FIS made because its issue is bigger and deeper than governance alone.

No one can argue that the Hamas-led government, since it came into existence under siege, has been targeted by enemies and friends alike. When the question is raised “Why has this happened?,” we find answers from both friend and foe of Hamas. From their detractors perspective, the answer is simple, as they accept neither Hamas' legitimacy nor its role in government. From an amicable viewpoint, the answer is difficult, as only a single interpretation remains: conflict over power. This fact is the oft overlooked secret of the Arab world's inability to offer a united front against Israel and her supporters. During crisis, Arabs tend to act whimsically with an urge to fulfill transitory desires.

Modern Arab political history have proven that the most perilous dilemmas stem from their subjective competition for power along with the fragile state of democratic traditions or its total absence. This makes people seeking power resort to exercising influence and using property without any supervision or check on their ambitions. If Arab governments were democratic, common political failures would not occur. Until the realization of a democratic era in the Arab world, conflicts and skirmishes between Arab countries will amplify, leading frequently weak governments to seek the aid of foreign governments, even at the cost of foreigners becoming the actual rulers in the states they assist.

Hamas gained power through elections, which even its enemies have called free and fair saying they were conducted according to European and international standards. Hamas' opponents have stated that the Palestinians proved capable of expressing their will and they opened the door to the peaceful transfer of power. They added that the Palestinian people have opened a new page in the history of their country while being under an unique occupation. Along with other commentators, I am of the view that governance under foreign occupation does not merit such internal conflict. Further, governance should not be the cause of heated debates and momentary quarreling, often leading to internecine fighting and deaths of innocents, thereby magnifying the already existing tragedy.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh is a prominent Yemeni poet and intellectual. He is the director of the Yemeni Center for Studies.