Every Israeli would say that the alliance between Hamas and Iranis strong and firm, based on the shared world-view between Palestinian Islamic zealots who are Sunni, and Iranian Islamist zealots, who are Shi’ite. Iran has even stronger affiliations with other organizations like Islamic Jihad and the Committees of Popular Resistance, than with Hamas. The anti-Israeli, anti-American and anti-West interest, that Iran shares with these organizations has allowed the world and Israeli politicians to place Iran, Hamas and the rest of the terror organizations into a single framework of Islamic terror.
But matters are not so simple. The conflict between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites, which began approximately 1350 years ago, continues in full strength and severity, and is expressed gruesomely today in the civil war that is currently grinding Syria into dust. The Shi’ite coalition of Iran, Iraq, Hizb’Allah and the Syrian regime is conducting an all-out war against the Sunni coalition of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt, which supports the rebels against Asad, most of whom are Sunni, with all of its strength and means. The number of fatalities in the massacre, which has reached almost 50,000 men, women and children, as well as the Iranian involvement in the genocide in Syria, raises a question regarding the Islamic legality of collaboration between Shi’ite Iran and Palestinian organizations, which are Sunni.
A short historical background: The Muslim Arabs conquered Persia in the middle of the seventh century CE and imposed Islam on the Persian nation. In 1501, sociological and political turmoil brought a group of descendants of a sheikh by the name of Safi al-Din to power over the Persian population, and they forced Persia to adopt Shi’ite Islam. Even today, the Sunnis are angry that the Persians adopted Shi’a, because many Sunni Muslims, mainly the Saudi Hanbalis, see Shi’a as a type of heresy.
From the moment the Hamas movement began to depend on the money, weapons and political support of Iran, the question arose as to whether it is permissible for a Sunni to accept help from a Shi’ite, specifically from those who were Sunni until 500 years ago, and have switched affiliation.
Muhammad Asaad Bayud al-Tamimi, an Islamist from a family that is identified with radical Islam inSamaria, published an article this month on the subject, which was “adopted” by hundreds of internet sites. The title of the article: “A Covenant with the Safavid Shi’ites (Iran) is forbidden by Islam, and if someone engages in such a pact, he forfeits his status as a Muslim.” The title makes clear his position that collaborating withIran excludes a Muslim from Islam as if he had become a heretic and converted to another religion.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that many do not agree with al-Tamimi’s approach. They take the logical approach that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and thus Sunnis may join hands with Shi’ite Iran in order to fight their common enemies.
It is also important to note that currently there are trends to bring Sunnis and Shi’ites closer together. The most eloquent spokesman for political Sunni Islam, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has called in the past for finding ways to bridge the differences between Sunna and Shi’a which were expressed in al-Tamimi’s article.
Ultimately, each organization decides for itself regarding this matter, and this decision may change over time: when Syria was an orderly state, there was no important reason for the leaders of Hamas to give up the support of Iran, but since the civil war broke out and the slaughter of Sunni citizens began as a result of demonstrations that began in March 2011, collaboration with Iran has become fairly problematic for Hamas. In his article, Tamimi calls on the last Palestinians who are still collaborating with Iran to leave it, and we must wait to see if this call falls on listening ears or will remain a solitary call in the desert. It depends on the desire of other states like Qatar,Saudi Arabia,Egypt or Turkey to support Palestinian organizations with weapons, money and political support.
Is this an impossible scenario? If the Marmara was possible then the possibility of similar developments in the future cannot be discounted. In the Middle East, several scenarios that seemed totally delusional two years ago are being played out today in front of our eyes. Slogans that politicians disseminate might become actual reality: if the Damascus regime falls, the image of Iran will become that of a loser; from under the carpet will come all of those sectarian anti-Shi’ite snakes that al-Tamimi fosters, the Sunni bloc will be encouraged and Israel – as we know – is not the favorite of Mursi, Erdogan and Sheikh Hamed of Qatar.
Since Israel announced that it plans to build in the area of E-1 between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, a chorus of protest has arisen, led by Turkish President Abdullah Gül, who announced that “Israel is playing with fire.” Without getting too deeply into the Turkish announcement, nothing good can come from this, because this is Turkey’s way of encouraging Hamas, the ideological ally of the Islamic party that rules in Turkey, to do in Judea and Samaria what it has already done in the Gaza Strip since July of 2007: establish armed and aggressive Islamic emirates. Anyone who thinks or speaks about an Israeli withdrawal in Judea and Samaria must take into account that any area that Israel vacates might turn into a terror swamp, like Gaza. Can anyone promise it will not happen?
In facing a cohesive Sunni front, Israel must appear strong, united and consolidated behind its leadership which knows well that only those who are strong and invincible enjoy peace and stability in the Middle East. In the arid, forsaken and violent area that we live in, if you beg for peace you get a kick in the behind and thrown out of the arena. Here, only he who is ready for war wins peace, and that peace will survive only as long as he presents a credible threat to anyone who dares to conspire to attack him. The Middle East is no place for bleeding hearts, rather it is for those of strong spirit, imbued with a sense of security and faith in the justice of their cause.
Al-Tamimi is an enemy who is not willing to give up his ideology for interests, no matter how important. The question for us is how much we stick to our ideology, and how ready we are to surrender it for other interests.
Originally published at Middle East and Terrorism.
About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
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