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.