As a reminder that Hamas is officially the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, Ashraf Ramelah discusses the current war in Gaza in relation to Egyptian President Al-Sisi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
A blow to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as Israel crushes Hamas
by Ashraf Ramelah
A few weeks ago shocking news arrived from Israel regarding the kidnapping of three young men. As news first circulated around the world, Israelis braced for the worst and prayed prayers for the safe delivery of the Israeli captives. How would this menacing action unfold for the victims and the country? Finally, we learned of their murders and the arrest of two Arab-Muslim suspects with links to Hamas. This horrific act of aggression against three Jews was committed in the first days of the Islamic month known as “blessed” Ramadan when fighting is forbidden.
The ninth month of the Islamic Hegira calendar is set aside for believers to honor the revelation received by the 7th century prophet. Muslims must be dedicated to fasting, prayer, and charity to the poor. Most importantly, aggression by and against Muslims must cease. Disturbances by outsiders during this calendar month trigger Muslim sensitivities and heighten intolerance. Making this calculation, Hamas attacked Israel in this timeframe knowing it would enhance sentiment. Israel’s retaliation would always be viewed as sacrilegious, securing world opinion in favor of Gaza terrorists where empathy is already heavily weighted. Hamas and Gazans remain in the more positive light despite their instigating acts provoking war in the month of Ramadan.
About a week after the kidnappings, Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas’ political bureau, boasted and blessed the kidnappers publicly with a bold announcement on Al Jazeera TV denying the involvement of Hamas. Another Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, already anticipating Israel’s counter-attack for the murders that had not yet been discovered (and Hamas rocket fire) appealed to the sympathy of the Egyptian people regarding Hamas’ “victimization,” stressing the importance of the remaining open tunnels between Egypt’s Sinai and the Gaza Strip — ones that Al-Sisi has yet to dynamite shut in his commitment to destroy all illegal passages. Food and weaponry was now in demand by Gazans who needed Egypt to smuggle such provisions through the tunnels, indicated Haniyeh.
Experts in Middle East conflict expected to see a demand on Israel to liberate particular terrorists as a ransom for the kidnapped boys. Such exchanges have been typical of the past. But why not this time? The answer: Hamas wanted to entice Egypt into warfare with Israel in order to help the Muslim Brotherhood regain power in Egypt. Hamas had a broader agenda for the kidnappings, murders, and rocket fire into Israel. Its aggression stirred up pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas opinion by Egypt’s politicians, journalists and media in order to put pressure on Al-Sisi’s new government to help the “oppressed” Gazans. But Al-Sisi ignored the call to aid Hamas militarily, deciding not to break Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
Hamas intended Egypt to comply with its request. It was meant to be a distraction for Al-Sisi to interrupt his strenuous battle against the Muslim Brotherhood — the beginning of the long-awaited reversal of the damage being done to organized terror inside Egypt. Hamas’ ploy aimed to release Egypt’s MB from Al-Sisi’s grip allowing it the time and space necessary to reenergize and regain power. But not only have the hopes of Hamas been dashed regarding its capacity to bait the religious issue and persuade Egypt’s Islamic leaders, but it wrongly predicted Egyptian mounting negative sentiment towards the existence of Hamas’ and its motives. The majority of the Egyptian public is attentive to Israel’s counter-attacks on Gaza with an unprecedented enthusiasm to see Hamas and its terror obliterated.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian military will likely provide humanitarian assistance directly to Gazan civilians. This will bypass the finger-pointing and embarrassment certain to come Al-Sisi’s way from the Egyptian Arab-Muslim community and the broader Islamic spectrum if Egypt were to take no action at all. Hamas presents a dilemma for Al-Sisi. Hamas’ terrorism against Israel carries with it the obligation for Muslim entities anywhere in the world to reach out on behalf of Hamas for the sake of Islamic doctrinal hate against Jews, a bond often underestimated by the West.
Another motive of Hamas concerns the U.S. and its allies. The White House will discern from Hamas’ violence and war on Israel, embarrassing as it is to the “peace process” conducted by the U.S. administration, that it is a direct consequence of Egypt’s MB collapse. No setback for the MB will be tolerated. After all, when Morsi was top dog, there was even talk of giving Hamas the northern third of Sinai to call its own. Back in the day, not that long ago, Hamas was of the ruling power and benefits were accruing — some even say with the blessing of the White House. The game has changed in Egypt, and Hamas’ attacks on Israel are driving home this point.
Across the Middle East, a dethroned MB struggles to recapture its glory in places like Iraq, Syria, and Libya. The people of these lands are fed-up with the results of the Arab Spring revolts that delivered MB rule to replace horrible dictatorships. Proxies for the MB (Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, Ansar el Islam, et al), militant anti-occupation factions in Gaza forging “victimhood” stories for the world through their aggression towards Israel, fashion and enflame a crisis to bargain for a toppled MB.
When all other direct means to rescue the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to date have been unsuccessful, their message is as if to say, “We will keep the heat turned up on Israel until the road is paved in Egypt to secure the return to power of the MB.” But Egypt, the birthplace of world terror, is steeled in battle to restrain and dissolve the MB — Hamas’ latest aggression is a test of Egypt’s resolve. Meanwhile, Israel demonstrates that Hamas will no longer play their game of extortion with the world at Israel’s expense.
Dr. Ashraf Ramelah is founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a human rights organization, and a board member of Stop Islamization of Nations (SION). For his previous articles, see the Ashraf Ramelah Archives.