Anthony Cordesman: Can Hamas Be Contained?
Anthony Cordesman, in a revealing NY Times interview with Bernard Gwertzman, paints a sobering picture of what a truly militant Hamas might do if it felt cornered by IDF onslaught and shut out of power by Abbas’ Fatah forces:
Now who’s going to be backing the Hamas force? Iran? There don’t seem to be Arab states around that are likely to back Hamas.
We need to wait and see what Hamas does—whether it tries to adopt a more moderate cover—but this is already a game where Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah in Lebanon have played a significant role. There is a vast flood of private capital in the Arab world, much of it in the hands of people who are not under the control of their governments. Money laundering activities that have somewhat tightened the flow of money in the Gulf have not affected what are massive deposits, perhaps half a trillion dollars—a lot of which is in private banks or in Asia or in Islamic banks in Asia.
There’s never a dull moment in this part of the world, is there?
There is the possibility of Iranian support and cadres infiltrating into Gaza; you have questions about what Hezbollah is going to do. It impacts in general on what al-Qaeda and Islamist movements elsewhere are going to do. If you look at the possibility of these interactions, none of them seems likely to move toward major wars, but this is part of a regional rise in instability, which extends from Pakistan into Algeria. It is very, very difficult to predict how much it will escalate and what the interactions will be.
It reminds me of the image of the Dutchman with his finger in the dyke who doesn’t seem to have enough fingers to stop the flow. No matter how hard the U.S. and Israel try to staunch the ‘flow’ of Hamas’ ideas and popularity, they can’t seem to do anything right. Will their latest maneuvers lead to a further radicalization of Hamas making it an even more dangerous troublemaker than it already is? Given the Bush Administration’s record of unifying splintered Islamist movements in the Middle East and strengthening their will to lethality, the outlook isn’t good.