Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
FACTS ON THE GROUND: THE GROWING POWER OF HAMAS’S GAZA LEADERSHIP

FACTS ON THE GROUND: THE GROWING POWER OF HAMAS’S GAZA LEADERSHIP

Ratings:
(0)
|Views: 3|Likes:
Published by GLORIA Center
This article will observe the process whereby Hamas has consolidated and maintained its rule in Gaza. It will argue that the gradual strengthening of the Gaza leadership within Hamas preceded the upheavals of 2011. The fallout from the events in Egypt and Syria, however, served to accelerate and accentuate the process whereby the Gaza leadership made gains at the expense of the external leadership.
This article will observe the process whereby Hamas has consolidated and maintained its rule in Gaza. It will argue that the gradual strengthening of the Gaza leadership within Hamas preceded the upheavals of 2011. The fallout from the events in Egypt and Syria, however, served to accelerate and accentuate the process whereby the Gaza leadership made gains at the expense of the external leadership.

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: GLORIA Center on May 21, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

06/26/2014

pdf

text

original

 
44 Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 16, No. 2 (June 2012)
FACTS ON THE GROUND: THE GROWING POWER OF HAMAS’S GAZALEADERSHIP
By Jonathan Spyer*
This article will observe the process whereby Hamas has consolidated and maintained its rule inGaza. It will argue that the gradual strengthening of the Gaza leadership within Hamas preceded theupheavals of 2011. The fallout from the events in Egypt and Syria, however, served to accelerate and accentuate the process whereby the Gaza leadership made gains at the expense of the externalleadership.
 
INTRODUCTION
The upheavals in a number of Arabcountries that began in the spring of 2011 havepresented the Palestinian Islamist Hamasmovement with both dilemmas andopportunities. On the one hand, Hamas is thePalestinian branch of the MuslimBrotherhood, and various branches of thistrans-national movement have emerged aswinners as a result of the upheavals. In Egypt,Tunisia, and in a more complex way also inSyria, the Muslim Brotherhood has vastlyincreased its power and influence as a result of the decline and/or collapse of the secular,nationalist military regimes in those countries.Most importantly, in Egypt, the MuslimBrotherhood now dominates the parliament,and is contending for the presidency.For Hamas, the rise of the MuslimBrotherhood in Egypt is of centralsignificance. Since July 2007, Hamas hasmaintained exclusive control over the GazaStrip area, which borders Egyptian-controlledSinai. The prospect of Muslim Brotherhoodrule in Egypt is thus of strategic importancefor the movement.
1
Yet the Arab upheavalshave also presented a challenge to Hamas. Inthe mid-1990s, the movement began buildinga close alliance with Iran and its so-called“resistance axis,” which includes the Shi’iHizballah organization and the Asad regime inSyria. Hamas’s overall leadership was basedin Damascus. The Gaza enclave, meanwhile,was heavily dependent on Iranian arms andmoney.The outbreak of an uprising against theAsad regime in Syria placed Hamas in anuncomfortable position. The uprising rapidlytook on a sectarian aspect. It consisted of arevolt largely by Sunni Arabs against a non-Sunni dictatorship. The Asad regime,meanwhile, responded to the uprising withextreme brutality. Around 16,000 people havedied so far as a result of its attempt to crushthe opposition. The Muslim Brotherhood inSyria was of course a supporter of theuprising, and rapidly moved toward apowerful position within the main oppositionalliance, the Syrian National Council. Iran,meanwhile, provided vigorous support for theAsad regime in its attempt to crush itsopponents. Other elements of the “resistanceaxis,” such as Hizballah, also played their part.This presented Hamas with a dilemma. Onthe one hand, its strategic allies and hosts wereengaged in a combined effort to crush a threatto one of their allies. However, on the otherhand, the threat consisted of an uprising bySunni Muslim Arabs against a brutal, Alawiregime. This uprising, furthermore, was of atleast partially Sunni-Islamist character, andHamas’s fellow Muslim Brothers were playinga prominent role in it.
2
 Hamas dealt with this dilemma by quietlywithdrawing its leadership from Damascus,while declining to hold public events insolidarity with the Asad regime in the
 
Facts on the Ground: The Growing Power of Hamas’s Gaza LeadershipMiddle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 16, No. 2 (June 2012) 45movement’s Gaza enclave. At the same time,the movement hoped not to sever relationsentirely with Iran and its allies. The mainpolitical fallout from this new situation facingHamas has been the relative strengthening of the movement’s Gaza leadership, at theexpense of the overall external leadership.This has manifested itself most clearly to datein the decision to transfer crucial areas of authority, including over the movement’sbudget, to the Gaza leadership, and away fromKhalid Mash’al, the movement’s nominalleader.This article will observe the processwhereby Hamas has consolidated andmaintained its rule in Gaza. It will argue thatthe gradual strengthening of the Gazaleadership within Hamas preceded theupheavals of 2011. The fallout from the eventsin Egypt and Syria, however, served toaccelerate and accentuate the process wherebythe Gaza leadership made gains at the expenseof the external leadership.The longer-term process derived from thefact that the Gaza leadership has built up astrong and stable center of real power andactual rule over the Palestinian population inGaza. The external leadership could boast nosimilar tangible asset. It did, however, handlerelations with the movement’s main patron inTeheran. The relative lessening of theimportance of this relationship made thechanging balance of power in the movement anear inevitability, with the consequences thatfollowed.
HAMAS IN GAZA: A QUASI-SOVEREIGN ISLAMIST ENTITY
The Hamas movement has exercisedexclusive control in the Gaza Strip since 2007.Following the collapse of the short-lived PAnational unity government and Hamas’s armedousting of Fatah from the Strip in June 2007,the movement took over all functions of publicadministration in the Gaza Strip. Hamasinherited the relatively sophisticatedadministrative apparatus, which had beendeveloped by the Palestinian Authority since1994--with the help of the international donorcommunity.Once the question of power had beensettled at the highest level, the movementappears to have experienced little trouble inadministering this apparatus. According to onereport, Hamas “succeeded in monopolisingcontrol of governance functions in Gaza,including security, economics, welfare, andthe public infrastructure”
3
within six monthsof the June 2007 coup. How was themovement able to achieve this?
Gaining Security Control 
The first issue facing Hamas was theconsolidation of its security control of theGaza Strip. Observation of the establishmentof Hamas’s power in this sector shows theway in which the movement has succeeded inabsorbing the machinery of the PA, leavingmuch of it in operation, while placing it firmlyunder the supreme authority of Hamas.Following the 2007 coup, the Ramallah-basedPalestinian Authority leadership called on allPA security forces to cease operating in Gaza.At this point, Hamas had two forces availablefor its use. These were the movement’s long-standing armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and the Executive Force,which Hamas had been building up around theInterior Ministry held by Fathi Hamad inGaza.The Qassam Brigades benefited from thecapture of a large arsenal from the PAfollowing the coup. The Brigades and theExecutive Force succeeded in the period aheadto establish themselves as the dominant armedforce in Gaza. While the Qassam Brigadesremained engaged with the primary movementtask of “resistance” against Israel, theExecutive Force was divided into threeseparate branches in the period immediatelyfollowing the 2007 seizure of power. Theseincluded the Civil Police, the Internal SecurityForces (an agency concerned with intelligencegathering and security within Gaza), and theNational Security Forces, which functioned asan external border guard and defense “army.”Hamas sought to present these as “non-
 
Jonathan Spyer46 Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 16, No. 2 (June 2012)political” forces quite separate from theQassam Brigades and Hamas’s own securitystructures. To this end, the Civil Police andNational Security Forces were nominallyheaded by non-Hamas figures. The police,notably, were headed by Tawfiq Jabir, aformer Fatah man, until his death on the firstday of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008.He was replaced by Brigadier General AbuUbaydah al-Jarah.
4
 Statements by senior Hamas figuresnotwithstanding, it is highly doubtful that acoherent case can be made of any realseparation between Hamas movement and“civil” security structures. This is because thecivil structures are in any case ultimatelyanswerable to a political leadership consistingentirely of Hamas men. The Hamasmovement structures and the “civil” structuresare both instruments available to the Gazaleadership, and can work separately or incoordination with each other depending on thecontext.Still, the attempt to bring into existencedifferent and parallel security structures, withone more politically loyal to the leadership butall ultimately subordinated to it resemblespractices familiar with other authoritarianMiddle Eastern regimes of nationalist,Islamist, and monarchical types. Syria, theWest Bank Palestinian Authority, Iran, andSaudi Arabia each in their own way havemaintained similar systems of parallelauthority, with more ideologically “pure” unitswith their own systems of commandcoexisting alongside regular units.While never entirely disarming otherparamilitary groups, Hamas has been able toforce them to accept its ultimate authoritywhen this proved necessary. On occasion, andwhen it suited its purposes, Hamas wasprepared to use violence against these othergroups. This applied to organizations such asIslamic Jihad, which sought to pursue anindependent campaign of rocket fire on Israel,which sometimes conflicted with Hamas’sneeds of the day.
5
It also applied to the Salafigroupings, which flourished in Hamas-controlled Gaza. These groups were toleratedas long as they did not interfere with theHamas monopoly of power. When theyoverstepped this mark, as in Khan Yunis in2009, they were dealt with swiftly andeffectively.
6
 It is likely that Hamas preferred to allowIslamic Jihad and other smaller groups tomaintain their military capabilities, as thesecould provide a certain deniability for theHamas authorities when they neverthelesswished to put pressure on Israel. Ironically,this process resembles the use made of Hamasby the PA leadership in the 1990s. Hamas’slong claim to represent an Islamic resistanceoption also meant that it was reluctant tochallenge frontally organizations purporting torepresent either of those principles in a morerigorous way than did Hamas itself.Nevertheless, Hamas did act against thesegroups if and when it felt that its own positionwas threatened, ensuring its ultimate authority.Hamas also worked to curb independent armedactivity by clan-based groups. In so doing, itsucceeded in creating a far calmer publicspace than had existed under PA rule.Having established its ascendance, if notquite monopoly, of the means of violence inGaza, Hamas then set about achieving controlover the tunnel system from Egypt that wasthe main means for the smuggling of weaponry and other goods into Gaza. Withthis achieved, the movement was able to beginthe process of turning its makeshift militaryforces into a quasi-army, armed withsophisticated weapons systems brought in viathe tunnels. Once the physical assurance of control over Gaza was achieved, Hamas thenbegan the work in earnest of acquiring controlover other aspects of life in the Strip.
Gaining Political and Judicial Control 
A decision by the West Bank PalestinianAuthority to order 70,000 of its employees notto report for work in the Gaza Strip(effectively, the PA paid them not to work) didnot have the presumably desired effect of rendering Gaza ungovernable. In the pre-June2007 period, endless wrangling betweenHamas officials and Fatah-affiliated civilservants was a notable feature of the

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->