Hamas Looking for Bigger Role Regionally

Khaled Mashaal, the chief of Hamas, has put together an ambitious agenda seeking to transform the ruling movement of Gaza from an Islamic militant movement into a political force that is widely recognized. However, without having to make concessions to Israel, that are needed for acceptance internationally.

Last week the leader of the movement was re-elected and Mashaal will attempt to increase ties with powers in the region such as Turkey, Egypt and Qatar, which have given both political support and money to Gaza and might be the needed conduits to Europe and the U.S., said several important figures in Hamas.

Mashaal is also pushing for a deal of power sharing with Palestinian rival and Western backed, President Mahmound Abbas. One analyst based in Jordan said that Mashaal desires that Hamas be recognized and to be a legitimate player in the region. However, the analyst said the challenge is that Mashaal must demonstrate he can succeed without following the same path, as did Fatah.

At one time, Fatah dominated politics amid Palestinians but was weakened severely for years by failed talks over a separate Palestinian state with Israel. Fatah’s main rival politically is Hamas.

A key in the plan of Mashaal is a deal politically with Abbas, which could be the springboard for becoming part of and possibly taking control one day of the PLO. The Palestine Liberation Organization is widely recognized as the power that represents the worldwide population of 12 million Palestinians.

The PLO was dominated by the Fatah but is for the most part inactive today, but remains an attractive means for Hamas to gain much needed international status.

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