Hamas used to get Iranian weapons funneled through Sudan, whose former dictator loved Al Qaeda.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
The announcement that Sudan and Israel are establishing friendly relations is a double blow to the Hamas terror group that is headquartered in Gaza, an expert in Arab affairs said Monday.
In the past, Sudan had for many years been a convenient platform for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and a key route for smuggling weapons from Iran to the Gaza Strip due to its location along the Red Sea, said Yoni Ben Menachem, Arab Affairs expert at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Hamas still has operatives in Sudan, but now fears that the normalization agreement between Israel and Sudan may include terms for a joint war between the two countries on terrorism in light of Hamas’s extensive past activity in Sudan. The agreement with Israel will tighten Sudanese security forces’ supervision of Hamas operatives in the country.
Under the rule of radical Islamic dictator Omar al-Bashir, Sudan was a pro-terrorist state that hosted al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, and even adopted Hamas. Israel had attacked Sudan several times to destroy huge shipments of Iranian weapons destined for Gaza.
But following al-Bashir’s overthrow, the new government of Sudan wanted to get off America’s list of state-sponsored terrorism that for years has stifled the African country’s economy. They accomplished that by agreeing to pay compensation to American victims of terror and by making peace with Israel – a move that has Hamas worried that its going to make it much harder to get weapons from Iran.
“Hamas estimates that any Arab or Islamic state that joins the process of normalization with Israel will have to pledge to the United States and Israel that it will fight terrorism, which means severe damage to its military arm overseas beyond the political harm to the organization and its definition as a ‘terrorist organization,'” Ben Menachem said.
Adding to Hamas’s problems is that it recently chose to side with Turkey in an attempt to reach reconciliation with the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also frustrated that another Arab country is bypassing the Palestinians to make a separate peace with Israel.
By going to Turkey, Hamas and Fatah angered Egypt, the traditional mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. Turkish leader Recep Tayip Erdogan has expressed his own opposition to Arabs normalizing with Israel, even though Turkey itself has full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
On the weekend, a Hamas delegation went to Egypt in a bid to restore relations with Cairo, but Ben Menachem says it will be a tough sell.
“The PA and the Hamas movement did a disgusting trick to Egypt when they surprisingly transferred their reconciliation talks to Istanbul in Turkey … they stuck another finger in Egypt’s eye,” Ben Menachem said.
“It was an act of humiliation for a regional power like Egypt that has always fought for the Palestinian problem, Egyptian national dignity has been severely damaged and those who know the Egyptians know they have a long memory,” he said.