February 2, 2006


Well, for once random speculation doesn't blow up in my face. Hamas is coming, cap in hand, folks.

As The New Republic points out, Hamas can't necessarily rely on Iran for a bailout:
The secret of Iran's success [in courting Sunni support for a radical Shia regime by funding Hamas] has been to consistently support political violence in Palestine, a cause with overwhelming appeal among Sunnis in the region, while generally avoiding direct support for Palestinian institution-building--a more suspicious project that, for many hard-line Shia and Sunni Muslims, reeks of conciliation toward the Jews. Thus, Tehran broke with Arafat over the Oslo accords but revived cooperation with arms shipments during the Al Aqsa intifada. It financed a Marxist revolutionary, Ahmed Jibril, in his group's war against the Jewish state in the '90s, but it withheld some support for Hamas as punishment for its temporary cessation of suicide operations declared last year. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Assefi, was, according to Radio Free Europe, quoted in the state news agency last week as "congratulat[ing] the great Palestinian people, the Hamas movement, all Palestinian combatants, and the great Islamic umma [Islamic nation]" for "the powerful presence of Hamas on the political scene of Palestine." Yet Iran's major financial recipient in the West Bank and Gaza, Islamic Jihad, boycotted the high-turnout Palestinian elections on the pretext of their illegitimacy under occupation, and it perpetrated a suicide attack on January 19. Broadly speaking, Iran is a fickle friend to Palestinian factions and the people they speak for; Tehran's commitment to the most uncompromising ideals of the broader Middle East region vis-à-vis Palestine easily trumps the pragmatic interests of the Palestinians themselves. Iran's history with the Palestinians is therefore a shaky basis for Hamas to expect reliable support from Tehran in any state-building project.
So Hamas doesn't have that many good options. Can Chavez really say no?