Islamic revival and the Great Game

Islamic revival and the Great Game 1

With the recent attacks on Israel by Hamas, it is interesting to see how the organisation was created and its origins.

Hamas is an Arabic abbreviation for the Islamic Resistance Movement and was formed in 1987, shortly after the outbreak of the first intifada. It was a spin-off of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, whose Gaza chapter had previously been non-confrontational with Israel, but hostile to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Co-founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said in 1987 that Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine, including present-day Israel, from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Over the years, the organisation may have become more compromising, claiming to accept the 1967 borders and reparations from Israel.

The Muslim Brotherhood that gave rise to Hamas is also interesting. Teacher Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Ismailia, Egypt in 1928 with six labourers from the Suez Canal project as a pan-Islamic religious, political and social movement. Al-Banna was appointed leader and promised to work for Islam through jihad and revive Islamic fraternity.

Since then, the Muslim Brotherhood has had a long and varied history; first rapid growth, with both social and political activities, including co-operation with Germany during the Second World War, and opposition to Israeli state-building. Under President Nasser, who opposed them, the organisation languished, but has since been strengthened under Mubarak and others. They played a strong role in the 2011 riots and became a legal force in the country, only to be banned again after the 2013 coup. The organisation is also one of the largest and most influential Islamic revivalist organisations,

Both the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are rumoured to be not genuine, but a kind of controlled opposition supported by the British and Israelis. Whether this is true or not I cannot confirm. But the curious reader should keep it in mind.

The many different factions in the Middle East and the intrigues of the major powers make it a very unclear playing field. That the Western powers trained and supported other jihadist groups is a refuted truth that is also presented in traditional media channels.

We should also think about what makes an organisation a legal champion of a country. Does Hamas really represent the Arab population of Gaza and the West Bank, are there perhaps forces or other organisations that do it better? The war between Israel and Hamas may not be as simple and clear-cut as we think. After all, the attack has given the Israelis the initiative and the moral right to pacify and annex the entire Gaza Strip, which hardly benefits the Arab population.