Background: Radical Islamism in the Middle East
Throughout the course of history, particularly over the last century, the Middle East has been identified as a growing source of hostility and violence due to its extensive involvement in religious conflict, ethnic rivalry, territorial dispute, and war. Poor governance, as well as the absence of an effective civil society and the lack of the rule of law, has led to the demise of several states within the region. Such instability has fostered the growth of religious extremism and brutality while insurgent groups and established terrorist organizations have converted these territories into safe havens to facilitate their radical operations. As a result, almost every country in the Middle East has been affected by militant Islamist movements. While the Arab-Israeli peace accord was a hindrance to Islamist ideology, the Iranian Revolution and the great opposition of the Afghani mujahedeen against the invading Soviet army has revived the movement. History and Formation of Hamas
Hamas, the acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Resistance Movement), was created in response to the intifada, which signified the beginning of true political resurgence among the Islamic forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip combating Israeli invasion and national secular forces led by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Up until that time, the most influential Islamic movement in the region, the Muslim Brotherhood, avoided forceful resistance against the Israeli occupation, which impeded their ability to progress as a popular force; however, the unprecedented events that took place in Palestine and the internal pressures of the movement compelled the Brotherhood to take part in the resistance by forming an interrelated organization.
“On 8 December 1987, a motor accident in the Gaza Strip involving an Israeli truck and small vehicles transporting Palestinian workers, several of whom were killed, triggered the riots that spread and evolved into what became known as the intifada.” The next day, leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood met to arrange a means in which the events could be used to incite religious and nationalist sentiments, and promise the spread of wide public demonstrations. In consequence, the Brotherhood’s response to the intifada was the subject of tensions within the organization—“In the West Bank, especially, the younger strata of the Brotherhood were eager to participate in the uprising against the occupation, while the traditional leaders initially had a reserved, wait-and-see attitude.” Despite such discrepancy, top tier members of the Muslim Brotherhood decided to create an ostensibly distinct organization to take responsibility for its involvement in the intifada: Hamas.
Hamas was derived as a product of speculation- if the intifada was unsuccessful, then the movement could disclaim Hamas and avoid Israeli retribution; on the other hand, if the intifada persisted, then the Brotherhood could reap the benefits by claiming ties to the faction. The Islamic Resistance Movement became an official branch of the Muslim Brotherhood on account of its charter that was issued in August 1988. Due to its active involvement in the intifada and the increasing consciousness of its affiliation with the Brotherhood, Hamas has matured into a credible Islamist movement that has the ability to attract new followers and supporters who have not held prior membership with the Muslim Brotherhood. After awhile, Hamas surpassed its parent organization by causing a state of imbalance in the political forces that had influence over the region for decades; thus, Hamas posed an unrelenting challenge to the secular forces of the PLO and evolved into a force that could not be ignored. Hamas emerged as the first significant challenge to the dominant nationalist trend in the occupied territories. Ideology, Aims and Strategies
“Israel will rise and will remain erect until...
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