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Hamas for Sale?

9:02 AM, Dec 21, 2011 • By JONATHAN SCHANZER
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In the end, however, Turkish patronage of Hamas is unlikely. Hamas would destroy whatever remains of its relationship with Iran by moving into regional rival Turkey’s orbit. For its part, Ankara would likely view a larger investment in a terror group as carrying too much risk and not enough reward.

Hamas now seems to understand the risks it carries. This explains, in part, why the group sought to unload captured Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit, who had become as much of a burden as he was a chip to cash in for a thousand jailed Palestinians. And while they should be taken with a grain of salt, recent reports now indicate that Hamas is even considering nonviolence. Though, it’s hard to ignore that without Iranian weapons flowing, violence simply will be harder to sustain.

All along, Hamas’s tactics have shifted with its funding. As a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Hamas’s attacks were rudimentary. During the Saudi era of patronage in the mid to late 1990s, they were marked by suicide bombings. Under Iranian influence, over the last decade, the group has fired torrents of rockets, turned its arms against rival Palestinian factions, and amassed a sophisticated arsenal.

Hamas’s next strategy may hinge on its new donors, and its new headquarters. Thanks to their growing isolation, Iran and Syria appear less likely to maintain their current roles. Most Middle East states are unwilling to step up, thanks to a wave of destabilizing protest movements. This is leverage for Washington and Jerusalem. If Hamas remains financially hobbled and homeless, after 24 years of violence, the terror group may have little choice but to bend.

Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former terrorism analyst at the U.S. Treasury and the author of Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine (Palgrave 2008).

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