The Mecca Deal: A Victory for Hamas, a Defeat for Almost Everyone Else

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank reacted with joy at news that the two main Palestinian factions at long last reached an agreement last week during meetings in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The details of the agreement between Hamas and Fatah, however, indicate that this deal represents a defeat for many of the key players in the Middle East. The crowded side where the losers from this agreement now stand includes Palestinian moderates, Washington, Israel, the European Union, and -- confusing the situation -- Iran.

Besides Hamas, the winners' side includes Saudi Arabia, the sponsor of the Mecca talks, which now emerges as a major player in the region, and scores one important victory in its efforts to elbow out its main Shiia rival, Iran. Hamas leaders were becoming frequent visitors to Tehran, as the Iranian government stepped in to become the main financial backer of the otherwise-ostracized group. Now Saudi Arabia has embraced Hamas, and promises to provide up to $1 billion to the new unity government. But the biggest winner, without any question, is Hamas, the Islamic group labeled a terrorist organization by Europe, Israel, the United States, Canada, and others. Hamas had held talks with Fatah for many months and, in the end, got its way without having to compromise on any of the positions found most objectionable by the international community and Israel.

Representatives of the two sides headed to the Holy City of Mecca under enormous pressure to reach a deal, because the streets of Gaza were spiraling out of control as militias from the rival parties fired at Palestinians, leaving more than 100 dead in the space of two months.

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