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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Now's the time to strangle Hamas

Jonathan Schanzer argues that the collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the civil war in Syria present a unique opportunity to strangle Hamas once and for all.
What can Washington do, exactly?
For one, Congress and the administration could stop wringing its hands over whether the toppling of Morsy was a coup and instead openly encourage continued operations against the tunnels (while also holding the army to account as it navigates complicated transition).
Congress, which dishes out some $500 million per year to the Palestinians, could also quietly work with the Palestinian Authority to scale back the funds that flow to Gaza.
From there, the United States could attempt to use whatever leverage it has to convince both Turkey and Qatar to cut back on their funding of Hamas. Admittedly, Washington doesn't have much pull in Ankara and Doha these days -- they have more sway with us -- but Congress could pull strings to speed up delivery of or withhold the advanced weapons systems that both countries are eagerly awaiting, depending upon how the conversation goes. Turkey, for example, is expecting Sidewinder missiles and Chinook helicopters, and it would like to purchase Predator and Reaper drones. Qatar, for its part, is expecting delivery of Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Systems, and 500 Javelin-Guided Missiles.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a strident proponent of Hamas on the world stage, is unlikely to be swayed. Erdogan insists that Hamas must be part of the political equation when negotiating peace with Israel. Qatar, however, presents possibilities. The former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani, recently abdicated the throne for his son, Tamim. The new emir is still learning his way on the world stage, and it is possible, some analysts suggest, that he could be persuaded to adopt new policies that promote moderation in the Middle East.
While the math is fuzzy, one thing is clear -- the Egyptian army's tunnel operations are slowly strangling Hamas. If one or more of the Islamist movement's other funders cut back their aid even a little, its financial crisis will only deepen. The more acute the crisis, the more Gazans will grow frustrated with their Islamist rulers. A Muslim Brotherhood government just fell unexpectedly in Cairo -- if Hamas doesn't watch its back, it could happen again in Gaza.
Read it all.

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