In politics it takes a while for things to come out in the wash, but this was always expected. After severing its relations with Iran due to pressure to align itself with the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt, Hamas is now openly reaping the rewards of it realignment. It first expression was Hamas condemnation of Assad, which drew a public line between Hamas and Tehran. Once armed and supported by Iran, Hamas is now drawing the endorsement of the GCC, and with that some lucrative development and financial support too. The visit of Qatari head of state Skeikh Hamid, is the first visit by any head of state to Gaza since Hamas took control there in 2007, ending 5 years of political isolation. But it is highly symbolic for many other reasons too:
BBC News - Qatar ruler begins landmark visit to GazaThe emir of Qatar has arrived in the Gaza Strip - the first head of state to visit since the Islamist group Hamas came to power there in 2007.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is expected to launch a $254m (£158m) construction project to help rebuild the war-torn Palestinian territory.
The PLO dominated PA has "expressed reservation" about the visit, but not in stark terms, perhaps for fear of alienating possilble Arab backing for its control over the Westbank. Instead they have called for a new start to peace talks between the PA and Hamas.
This visit and the investment that goes with it, no doubt mark the start of a more committed relationship between the GCC and Hamas, between whom the interlocutor is Egypt, both is political and geographic terms. Both the Hamas leadership and Egypts President Moursi were persent at the recent AKP conference in Turkey. At least now we know what was being discussed besides their new found hatred of the Assads.
Until now the GCC has simply used the Palestinian problem as a public platform to bolster its regional credability, without actually doing anything. Now with the GCC directly involved in Gaza, and apparently favouring Hamas over the PA, they seem to finally be pulling a chair up to the table.
How will this affect GCC backed militant Sinni groups the operate in Gaza outside the direct control of Hamas? How quickly they are brought under rein might indicate how much direct influence the GCC has on Sunni militant groups. The miltia it now backs and will be funding in the strip, is Hamas, which is a startling turn around from just two years ago, when Iran's Ahmedinejad could crow about his governments support for Palestiians, via that same organisation. Tehrans influence is now confined to Lebanon, and the increasingly shakey Syria. Will Hamas come to resemble a more 'Sunni' militant organisation if these various groups are absorbed instead of withdrawn or expelled?
- Does this realignment of Hamas, or refinement of their alliances, mean a backdoor is open to the US via the GCC? Does it mean Isreal will not be the only voice influencing US policy towards Palestinians?
- If there is to be any progress in that regard, would there not have to be another attempt at reconciliation between Hamas and the PA?
- Might we see Hamas fighters enter Syria on the side of the FSA?
- Does this man that Palestinians in Lebanon may align themselves more with neighbouring anti-Assad forces?
- Will any reconsiliation that replaces Tehrans sponsorship of Hamas with GCC money, mean any unified Palestinian representation will be more Islamist? That this move comes directly after the mandate for a new PA has been voted on could be no acccident. The PA keeps its mandate, while Hamas get their boots under the table with the aid of GCC cash. But to quote the Hamas leader from March this year where he expressed support for ""the heroic people of Syria who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform". So is Hamas to be the unelected military wing of the Palestinian cause, while the PA remains its political voice?