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Hamas decides to abandon Syrian President, heads to higher ground!

Interesting article: "Iran threatening to cut Hamas funds, arms supply if it flees Syria" by AVI ISSACHAROFF and AMOS HAREL / Damascus published Monday, December 5th, 2011

A recent article in Haaretz mentions that according to some sources, Hamas is abandoning its headquarters in Syria and looking at other Arab states as an alternative location for its political command center. Hamas' move comes despite intense Iranian pressure on the organization to refrain from relocating. The Hamas activists on the move, the sources say, are those responsible for the activities and funding of the organization's military wing, as well as some members of the political leadership. Most have left together with their families to a number of destinations, including Gaza, Sudan, Qatar and Lebanon. The Palestinian sources have defined the relocation activities as a hasty abandonment of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who until recently was Hamas' strongest ally in the Arab world. Is this one of the final blows to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad?

Efforts on the part of the Syrian and Iranian regimes to ascertain whether Hamas is indeed fleeing Damascus have been met with denials from the organization's leadership. In recent days, a number of Hamas officials, particularly among the leadership in Gaza, have called explicitly for the organization to distance itself from Damascus in light of the ongoing violence and bloodshed in Syria and the severe harm suffered by the country's civilians. Haaretz also mentions that Hamas has made a decision to abandon Damascus without letting the Syrian authorities know. The decision was made by the organization's senior leadership in the wake of the harsh criticism voiced against top Hamas officials in Gaza and abroad because of their ties with the Syrian regime. This criticism, coupled with the ongoing violent suppression of the demonstrations in Syria and the reported killing there of more than 4,000 people, intensified the dilemma facing the Hamas leadership - to continue to stand by its Syrian patron, or to abandon the Syrian capital and thus make it clear that Hamas, considered a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, is distancing itself from Assad. The Arab League's decision to suspend Syria from membership of the organization and impose economic sanctions on Damascus tipped the scales, with Hamas finally deciding to covertly evacuate all its activists from Syria and leave behind only the organization's highest-ranking officials so as to preserve a low profile of activity there. Among the Hamas officials who are still coming and going from Damascus are Mousa Abu Marzouq (Meshal's deputy), Izzat al-Rishq, Al-Arouri and Meshal himself. Although, according to Palestinian sources, only "second and third-ranking" Hamas activists are leaving Damascus, while senior members of the organization's political wing, headed by Khaled Meshal, are remaining in the Syrian capital. This comes in the wake of actions that took place on Sunday where at least a dozen Syrian secret police have defected from an intelligence compound in what appeared to be the first major desertion from a service that has acted as a pillar of Assad's rule. A gunfight broke out overnight after the defectors fled the Air force Intelligence complex in the center of Idlib city, 280 kms (175 miles) northwest of Damascus, and ten people on both sides were killed or wounded, activists have reported. One activist in Idlib, who gave his name as Alaa, said army defectors based in the nearby Jabal al-Zawiya region were seen near the secret police compound and helped the deserters escape in what appeared to be a coordinated operation. This was after opposition sources estimated that the number of defectors from the security forces is at several thousand, mainly army recruits from Syria's Sunni Muslim majority. Members of Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, have a tight grip on the country's military and security apparatus. Assad, who inherited power from his late father in 2000, can also still count on support from China and Russia, which last month scuppered Western efforts to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning his government. Arab sanctions, however, are a psychological blow to a leader whose ruling Baath Party has touted Syria for decades as "the beating heart of Arabism." The sanctions, which have not yet taken effect, would include freezing the assets of 19 top Syrian officials and Assad associates and banning them from entering other Arab countries (the punitive measures against Syria are the first the Arab League has imposed on a member state since its formation in 1945). The number of flights to Syria would be halved. The collapse of the 40-year-old Assad regime in Syria would radically change the politics of the Middle East, reducing the influence of Iran and its Islamist proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon, the main Syrian opposition leader in exile has said. Syria would align itself with the Arab League and the Gulf, Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghalioun told the Wall Street Journal in an interview in France. As our relations with Iran change, so too will our relationship with Hezbollah. Hezbollah after the fall of the Syrian regime will not be the same. Lebanon should not be used as it was used in the Assad era as an arena to settle political scores,” Ghalioun told the paper. “Assad got several offers of asylum,” he told the paper at his home near Paris. “The Arab League and Turkey offered to help find him a safe haven. It is clear that he wants to continue and I believe he is not mature and he doesn’t have a grasp on reality. He is delusional.” Seeing the writing on the wall, I think the best summary of his position was by Hillary Clinton who kept the heat on Assad in a speech in November, simply declaring that his "days are numbered."

To read my previous posts on Assad's down fall see my blog posts below:

Blog Post: Syria could be slowly slipping into civil war!

Blog Post: Gaddafi dead, Bashar al-Assad next?

Blog Post: A quick conversation about the Arab Spring, Oil Production and the World Economy!



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