November 23rd, 2012
11:24 PM ET

With cease-fire, Hamas' isolation has ended

Editor's note: Salman Shaikh is director of the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Salman Shaikh.

By Salman Shaikh, Special to CNN

Critics of the cease-fire reached Wednesday between Hamas and Israel argue that little has changed. For now, they say, the Egypt-brokered de-escalation has merely placed a Band-Aid over a seeping wound, restoring the status quo established after Israel's Operation Cast Lead offensive of late 2008. Certainly, we may well see the return of airstrikes and rockets; the truce represents only a small first step toward a more durable solution. The nature of the agreement, however, points to a clear "Arab Spring truth" and a significant shift in regional dynamics: The international isolation of Hamas has ended.

The influence exercised by Egypt, Turkey and Qatar was clearly instrumental in delivering this cease-fire. The role of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy, in particular, has been praised by Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton alike, with the latter commending Egypt's government for "assuming responsibility and leadership" in de-escalating the crisis.

Toward the end of 2011, Hamas' departure from Damascus was sealed when Meshaal refused to denounce the uprising against his former host and sponsor, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. With its regional base and Iranian funding in jeopardy, Hamas has increasingly turned to its fellow Sunni allies in Egypt, Turkey and Qatar.

The degree of influence that this troika of Arab Spring playmakers has over Hamas' leaders, however, was revealed only by the recent crisis. The absence in negotiations of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, was telling. It shows that in a post-revolution Middle East, engagement with Hamas on its own is both feasible and tempting.

Read the full commentary

Topics: Middle East

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. JAL

    Now it is time to use this new window to move significant business infrastructure into Libya to create new business partnerships with the Libyan people. It is also a good time for everyone involved to get some training on mercenary awareness.

    November 24, 2012 at 8:12 am | Reply
  2. joe anon 1

    salmon shaiky, another haim saban stooge with a stage.

    qatar is a disgrace.

    November 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  3. Richard

    Hamas is a racist, terrorist, and Nazi Organization. Article 7 of the Hamas Charter calls for the killing (extermination) of ALL Jews.

    November 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Reply
  4. Tommy

    Don't worry, they will start firing missiles again and Israel will once again fail to do what they need to do. Which is level Gaza, bury the rubble and move in....

    November 25, 2012 at 12:29 am | Reply
  5. Palestinian liberal

    Don't trust Muslim academics at all. They have and still stabbing you in the back.

    November 25, 2012 at 2:27 am | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    With the cease-fire, the Hamas had been able to save face. A ground invasion by Israel would have desastrous.
    Yet the Hamas should take advantage of it to rethink their posture as a ruling party and their policies with Israel. No doubt the Hamas want to emulate the achievement of the Hezbollah in Lebanon, which had come in from the cold and its legitimacy been widely accepted internationally.

    November 25, 2012 at 8:39 am | Reply

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