Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Egypt and Hamas

Egyptian officials are calling on Hamas to recognize Israel and disarm its militant wing. Of course, this likely has more to do with Egypt's fear of Hamas' influence on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt than out of any real concern for the security of Israel. Nonetheless, most of the politically relevant Arab nations with any influence over the peace process have issues with militant Islamic groups becoming involved in domestic politics. Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia all would likely prefer not to see Hamas continue its violent campaign against Israel lest it encourage domestic groups in their own countries to adopt a similar tactic. Such pressure from Arab nations could certainly help push Hamas towards a political strategy that would help support the struggling peace process.

In another note, Fatah and the PA are officially denying a claim by Egypt that the PA has agreed that Hamas would have to recognize Israel in order to join a Palestinian government. While it's too early to tell which claim is accurate, it certainly wouldn't be surprising for the PA and Fatah to publicly deny this, for the sake of domestic opinion, even if it is in fact true.

Overall, the pressure is mounting on Hamas to restrain itself and move towards becoming a legitimate political player.

UPDATE: Apparently, as I predict above, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have already begun pressuring Hamas to to moderate its stand towards Israel, work with Fatah, and continue the peace process.

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