I know the Torah tells us not to rejoice at the downfall of our enemies, but it’s very hard not to feel at least slightly gleeful at the misfortunes of our worst enemies. So, in the hope that I’ll be forgiven in the next life, here are some news items you might find interesting.
The most important item of interest is that Qatar has kicked out Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, although Hamas of course deny this:
Qatar has deported Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal after hosting him for the past three years, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
According to a report in left-wing Turkish newspaper Aydınlık, Qatar has faced significant pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to deport Mashaal, amid a diplomatic reconciliation process currently underway between the small Gulf state and the Arab world.
According to CNN, citing a Hamas-run news agency, Mashaal and other Muslim Brotherhood members were most likely to head to Turkey.
On December 20, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdul Rahman, a special envoy of Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. The meeting apparently ended the longstanding enmity between the two states over Qatar’s support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a written message Tuesday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry congratulated Qatar for its decision to deport Mashaal.
I had read about Egypt’s reconciliation with Qatar earlier, and thought it an odd move for Egypt’s President Al-Sisi, especially as he denounced Islam’s antagonizing the whole world. Now, after this expulsion by Qatar, the whole story make sense.
According to Arab media reports, the deal between Egypt and Qatar included the closing of anti-Sissi Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr on December 22; the extradition of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members from Qatar to Egypt; and a halt to Qatar’s funding of the Muslim Brotherhood.
If true, Mashaal’s departure from Qatar would mark the end of Hamas’s political presence in the Arab world. Expelled from Jordan in August 1999 and choosing to break ties with the Assad regime in Syria in January 2012, Mashaal has struggled — and failed — to foster political patrons in the tumultuous Arab Middle East.
It couldn’t happen to a nicer person. So where will the poor, stateless refugee Mashaal head to next? Turkey of course.
Appearing before a gathering of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party in Konya December 27, Mashaal congratulated the people of Turkey “for having [Prime Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan” as heads of state, adding that “a strong Turkey means a strong Palestine … Inshallah, God is with us and with you on the road to victory.”
Turkey already hosts militant Hamas leader Saleh Al-Arouri, whom Israel accuses of directing terror attacks against its citizens.
Why is Turkey such an obvious choice for Hamas’s leader? Burak Bekdil at the Gatestone Institute has been monitoring Turkey’s hostility to Israel and the West, and its outright antisemitism, for a long while now, having written dozens of articles on the subject, all of which are worth reading. In the following article (via Middle East Forum) he explains why Turkey, in the form of Prime Minister (formerly Foreign Minister) Ahmet Davutoglu, is so welcoming to Khaled Mashaal:
Little has changed in Konya’s political demographics since the 1980 coup. It still boasts being the center of Turkish political Islam even though, ironically, the city’s name is a Turkish distortion of its original medieval Greek name “Ikonion.” This August, three-quarters of residents of Konya voted for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who became the president of the country, with 51.5% of the nationwide vote. Like most of Turkey’s cabinet ministers and ruling MPs, Erdogan comes from the ranks of Erbakan’s school of political Islam.
But these days Konya is even more loudly proud of one of “its own sons.” Former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Erdogan’s choice, was elected party leader and prime minister this summer.
Last weekend, Davutoglu gathered a regional party congress in his native Konya, where enthusiastic locals and party loyalists called him “a true grandson of the Ottomans.”
The party congress looked like any other congress of the ruling Justice and Development party [AKP]: a fawning crowd, cheering, singing and shouting pro-Davutoglu (and pro-Erdogan) slogans, and waving Turkish and Palestinian flags. But there was more.
Davutoglu’s guest of honor at the party congress in Konya was Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas’s political bureau and the darling of Messrs Erdogan and Davutoglu — a feeling that is apparently not unrequited.
Taking the stage, Mashaal congratulated the Turkish people “for having Erdogan and Davutoglu.” Thundering applause, Palestinian flags waving passionately and thousands of AKP fans shouting, “Down with Israel!”
In his speech, Davutoglu accused Israel of “attempts to reduce the Islamic character of Jerusalem,” and repeated that Turkey and Palestine have a common stance (against Israel). He also declared a new mission for Turkey: the self-declared guardian of Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque.
“Turkey will do whatever needs to be done to protect Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque,” he said. More thundering applause, more Palestinian flags waving and more “Down with Israels.”
Whenever there is a visiting foreign dignitary, a head of state or a prime minister, Davutoglu would usually meet with his guest bilaterally for an hour or two. In Konya, his tête-à-tête with Mashaal lasted for four and a half hours — a span not surprising, given the lucrative engagement with “all things Palestinian.” Playing the champion of the “Palestinian cause” has traditionally been a smart vote-catcher in the Turkish lands, especially in Konya.
As Turkey is described by Bekdil as
Unfortunately, Turkey is neither democratic, nor stable — nor developed
it is clearly the obvious choice for Mashaal.
The thought occurs to me that maybe he will be an easier target for Israel since he’ll now be living in a more accessible country than Qatar.
Meanwhile, more bad news this time for Hezbollah which means good news for Israel (via Brian Goldfarb). The slump in world oil prices is putting the squeeze on Hezbollah as Iran tightens its belt:
A slump in global oil prices and nuclear-tied sanctions are squeezing the group’s patron Iran, which is already funneling billions of dollars to the Syrian regime. As Iran tightens its belt, Hezbollah has had to impose salary cuts on personnel, defer payments to suppliers and reduce monthly stipends to its political allies in Lebanon, according to a wide range of political and diplomatic sources in Beirut, including friends and foes of the powerful Shiite party.
But the belt-tightening underlines just how reliant Hezbollah is on Iranian largesse to pay its ever increasing army of fighters, as well as to bankroll its massive social welfare network of schools and hospitals upon which much of its Shiite support base depends.
“Salvaging the regime in Syria and fighting ISIS in Iraq have forced Iran to divert more resources away from Hezbollah at a time when the resource base in Iran is shrinking” due to lower oil revenues and international sanctions, says Randa Slim, a Hezbollah expert and a director at the Washington-based Middle East Institute.
A 50 percent crash in global oil prices since last June to below $60 a barrel spells trouble for Iran, which based its current budget on oil fetching $100 or more. While oil traders see a mismatch of global supply and demand driving the downturn, observers here suspect that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest producer, is deliberately manipulating prices to cripple its arch-rival Iran.
Last month, after OPEC members opted not to cut production, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani alleged a “conspiracy against the Muslim world.” On Thursday, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, told Reuters that if Saudi Arabia does not intervene to reverse the slump it would be a “serious mistake that will have a negative result on all countries in the region”.
Good on Saudi Arabia and OPEC assuming this is true – and those are words I never expected to write before.
Other troubles plague Hezbollah too:
Compounding the cash crunch are increasing allegations of corruption within the organization. The Hezbollah-run Rassoul al-Azzam hospital in Beirut’s southern suburbs, which has treated hundreds of casualties evacuated from Syrian battlefields, used to pay its suppliers every three months, one well-placed source said. Now, payments are made every six months with an Iranian official flying in specially to handle the transfers so as to prevent pilfering.
“The whole thing is falling apart,” says a Lebanese politician closely following Hezbollah’s financial problems. “It’s corruption on a cataclysmic scale.”
It can’t happen soon enough. May their downfall happen speedily in our days, Amen. And may Hamas and Fatah collapse along with them.