Realignment Leaves ‘Resistance Axis’ Reeling
By Hugh Naylor
November 03, 2012 "Information
- JERUSALEM - It has been called the "Axis of
Resistance", but the anti-US alliance of Iran, Syria and
Hizbollah and Hamas is disintegrating.
Hamas's decision to align itself with Sunni-led countries such
as Qatar and Bahrain has come as a major blow to the axis also
reeling on several other fronts.
The Qatari emir's visit to Hamas-ruled Gaza last month
underscored the degree to which the axis has unravelled and sent
a powerful message the governments in Damascus and Tehran, which
views the Arab Gulf state as an arch foe.
Taher Nunu, a Hamas spokesman, said last week that the head of
the Bahrain Royal Charity Organisation, Mustafa Al Sayed, would
soon tour the Palestinian enclave, further underlining Hamas's
changing approach to foreign policy.
Cracks first appeared in the axis when Hamas angered the Tehran
government, an important patron, for failing to maintain its
loyalty to Bashar Al Assad as the uprising against his rule
started 19 months ago.
Compounding the group's woes, Iran's economy is showing signs of
distress from biting western sanctions over its nuclear
programme, Syria's president is fighting for his regime's
survival and Hizbollah in Lebanon is under fire from opponents
who blame it for the assassination of an anti-Syrian
That Hamas, a Sunni Islamist group, has allied itself with Sunni
powers reflects the faultlines in the Middle East, say analysts.
Hamas was the only Sunni member of the axis, which consisted of
Shiite Iran and Hizbollah in Lebanon and the Alawites of Mr Al
Assad's regime (Syria's minority Alawites are followers of an
offshoot of Shiite Islam).
"We're seeing basically the resistance axis becoming much more
vulnerable and under duress. So even if it survives, it's really
under tremendous pressure," said Fawaz Gerges, director of the
Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.
"The Hamas shift to the Saudi-Qatari-Turkish orbit represents a
major nail in the coffin of the resistance axis," he added. "Now
you are talking about Iran and Syria and to a lesser extent Iraq
and this undermines the social element because Hamas added the
very important Sunni dimension."
Less than a decade ago, the axis seemed to be on the rise and so
too Shiite Islam following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime marked the end of Sunni
domination in Iraq as a Shiite government came to power. The
government in Baghdad has since warmed ties with Iran - much to
the chagrin of the US and its Arab allies.
In 2004, Jordan's King Abdullah - a US ally - warned of a
developing "Shiite crescent" in the region.
But the Arab Spring has empowered Sunni Islamists, who won
democratic elections in Egypt and Tunisia, reversing the
momentum the Jordanian monarch had warned about.
In Syria, too, the rebels fighting to topple Mr Al Assad are
"The fate of the alliance rests on the future of the Assad
regime," said Bilal Saab, Middle East analyst at the Monterey
Institute of International Studies in California.
"If Assad goes, Iran and Hizbollah will suffer and find it much
more difficult to plan, coordinate, and communicate."
Still, Mr Assad could very well triumph, which Iran would
"trumpet as a major success", said Yossi Alpher, former director
of Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies.
But if the Syrian leader does indeed fall, Israel and the
Sunni-Arab states would face a new challenge.
"Iran and its nuclear ambitions will remain an issue and you
could possibly have a Syria run by extremists, and Israel, the
West and the Arab moderates will be faced with determining
whether the alternative is actually better," Mr Alpher said.
with additional reporting by Associated Press
article was originally posted at
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