News Analysis: Hamas dropping Brotherhood link likely to improve ties with Egypt

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-07 04:39:38|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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by Marwa Yahya

CAIRO, May 6 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Monday unveiled a new policy document that would end its association with the Muslim Brotherhood, a move likely to improve its ties with Egypt.

"The move is apparently aimed at improving ties with the Gulf countries and Egypt, which considered the Muslim Brotherhood a threat to security and stability in the region," said Ambassador Mohamed Al-Oraby, former Egyptian foreign minister.

The new 42-provision document identifies Hamas as "an Islamic Palestinian national resistance and liberation movement that aimed at liberating Palestine."

The document stated Islam is its main reference, without any mention to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The original document of Hamas, published one year after the group was established in 1988, wrote that the group was "an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood."

Egypt has outlawed the Brotherhood as a "terrorist group" and banned its activities following the ouster of the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Since then, the ties between Egypt and Hamas have been on hot edge.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia also classified the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization because both countries deemed the Islamists as a threat to its inherited royal rule.

Hamas' separation from the Brotherhood, Al-Oraby said, is "a positive step" to melt the ice in ties with Egypt, whose Rafah border crossing is Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip's main gateway to the outside world.

Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt destroyed a once-thriving network of cross-border smuggling tunnels used by Hamas, robbing the group of its main economic lifeline and a key source of weapons.

Egypt's state-run media have repeatedly accused Hamas of collaborating with militants in Egypt, a charge the group always denies.

In Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas since 2007, years of Egyptian restrictions, coupled with an Israeli blockade and three wars between Hamas and Israel, have devastated the economy and weakened the Palestinian Islamist group.

"Hamas realized it has lost a strong strategic ally like Egypt, and decided to reopen communication channels with Cairo" under severe pressure amid uncertain conditions in the region, said Al-Oraby, who is also a member of the Egyptian parliament.

The Palestinian group understood that "the Brotherhood and its allies suffer troubles currently," Al-Oraby said, adding that Egypt is a strong and stable country that could present support and aid to the strained Palestinian people in Gaza.

Furthermore, many Western countries classify Hamas as a terrorist group over its failure to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements.

Saeed al-Lawendy, expert with state-run Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies said "Hamas' split from the Brotherhood will lead to lifting its name from the terrorist group list and will beautify the group's image that has been seen as bloody by some world powers."

The political expert added that Hamas' link with the Brotherhood has become an accusation that the Palestinian group should "deny and regret" all the time.

He said if Hamas would "seriously" consider dropping connections with the Brotherhood, it would improve ties not only with Egypt but also with its U.S. and Arab Gulf states allies as well.