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Hamas to pay 'heavy price' to normalize Egypt ties

GMT 15:20 2016 Saturday ,19 March

Arab Today, arab today Hamas to pay 'heavy price' to normalize Egypt ties

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Cairo - Arab Today

Playing a role in pacifying Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula and cutting off ties with Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah are possible prices that Palestinian group Hamas would pay for “normalizing” relations with the Egyptian regime analysts believe.

A Hamas delegation visited Cairo last week after Egyptian accusations against the group of being involved in last year’s bombing that killed Egypt’s prosecutor-general Hesham Barakat.

Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouq said the delegation’s visit has turned a “new page” in relations between the Palestinian group and Egypt.

Political analyst Adnan Abu Amer opines that Egyptian officials will ask Hamas to work against Daesh-linked militants in the Sinai Peninsula.

“The Egyptian regime will ask Hamas to play a role in pacifying the Sinai which has become a weak point [for the regime]” Abu Amer told Anadolu Agency.

Since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi -- Egypt’s first democratically-elected president -- in a 2013 military coup the northern Sinai Peninsula has been the epicenter of a deadly insurgency against Egyptian security personnel.

In recent months the "Welayet Sinai” ("Province of Sinai”) group -- said to be linked to the Daesh terrorist organization -- has claimed responsibility for a spate of deadly attacks on Egyptian security forces deployed in the volatile region.

Abu Amer however rules out that Hamas would accept an Egyptian request to cooperate against militants in Sinai.

“The Hamas strategy is that it does not interfere in the affairs of any Arab country” he said.

The political analyst said the Palestinian group will only reiterate that it will work to protect the Egyptian-Palestinian border.

“It’s difficult for Hamas to play the role of a security agent for the Egyptian regime or to fight militant groups in Sinai” he said.

Relations between Egypt and Hamas – an ideological offshoot of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group – have strained since Morsi’s overthrow.

Egyptian media accuse Hamas of involvement in a spate of militant attacks in Sinai a claim denied by the Palestinian group.

On Tuesday Hamas the de facto ruler of the blockaded Gaza Strip said it “will not allow any action from Gaza that would harm the security of Egypt and its people.”

Abu Amer said that Egypt has an interest in improving relations with Hamas.

“Hamas is a card that could achieve [Egypt’s] interests amid unprecedented polarization in the region” he said.

Hezbollah ties

Abu Amer thinksthat cutting off Hamas’ relations with Hezbollah and Iran could be a “price” for improving relations with Egypt.

“The Egyptian regime…will ask Hamas to severe ties with Hezbollah and Iran especially that the Lebanese group was blacklisted by Arab countries as a terrorist organization” he said.

On Friday the Cairo-based Arab League labeled Hezbollah a terrorist organization in a resolution that came shortly after the Gulf monarchies designated the movement a terrorist group.

“The Arab resolution regarding Hezbollah bears major political consequences” Palestinian political analyst Telal Oukal told Anadolu Agency. “Egypt which is close to Saudi Arabia wants to send a message to Hamas that it has to…stay away from Iran and Hezbollah.”

Saudi Arabia accuses Hezbollah – Lebanon’s most powerful military force – of serving as a proxy for Shia Iran and of hijacking Lebanese policy-making.

In an interview with FRANCE 24 on Monday Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal said that his group’s relations with Iran have strained due to Hamas’ support for the Syrian revolution.

Oukal believes that Hamas will have to pay “political prices” for establishing normal relations with Egypt.

“The visit of the Hamas delegation to Egypt goes beyond the Rafah crossing and inter-Palestinian reconciliation” he said. “This is a political visit and Hamas will be required to give answers to what is offered.”

According to an unnamed Palestinian source the Hamas delegation left Cairo on Tuesday for Qatari capital Doha.

Muslim Brotherhood

Political analyst Abdel-Sattar Qassim opines that the Egyptian regime will ask Hamas to cut ties with the Muslim Brotherhood as a price for establishing normal relations.

“Egypt will ask Hamas to totally separate from the Muslim Brotherhood a request which the group cannot accept at the present time” he said.

Qassim sounded pessimistic about any improvement in the relationship between Hamas and the Egyptian authorities.

“Is Hamas ready to make concessions and pay political prices for improving relations with Egypt?” Qassim asked. “What I see is that this is a partial breakthrough.”

Egypt has tightened its grip on the border with the blockaded Gaza Strip since Morsi's overthrow.

The repeated closures of the Rafah crossing Gaza’s only access to the outside world not under Israeli control have made life even more difficult for its roughly 1.9 million residents who have been reeling under a decade-long Israeli siege.
SourcE: AFP

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