World Citizen: In Changing Region, Hamas Faces Urgent Choices

World Citizen: In Changing Region, Hamas Faces Urgent Choices

The ongoing transformation of the Middle East has affected every government and every political organization in the region. In some cases, the changes have led to a clearly visible victory; in others, an obvious defeat. In the case of Hamas, the radical Palestinian group that rules Gaza, the Arab Spring has brought a disorienting combination of extremely good and extremely bad news.

Hamas now faces a starkly different world with conflicting forces at play. More importantly for the Hamas leadership, it must urgently make some very difficult decisions.

On the surface, the Arab uprisings look like a cause for jubilation for Hamas. The early months of the upheaval brought down Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, one of Hamas' most despised foes. Mubarak had worked hand in glove with the Israelis to keep Palestinian Islamic militants contained in Gaza, lest they inspire and strengthen Egypt's own, the Muslim Brotherhood. The fall of Mubarak brought an ignominious end to a hated enemy of Hamas. And if that news had not been enough cause for exhilaration, the end of Mubarak's rule was followed by the stunning political ascendance in Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ ideological model, as well as of the more radical Salafi al-Nur party.

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