What the American Withdrawal from Afghanistan Means for Hamas

In the past, write Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh, Hamas has claimed to have inspired the Taliban: after all, the Afghan Islamist group believed that by persisting in its terror war it could wear down the Americans, just as Hamas—in its own understanding—drove Israel out of the Gaza Strip with the second intifada. The U.S. retreat from Afghanistan will now relay a similar message to Palestinian jihadists:

While the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan was good news for extremists, it was bad news for moderate Arabs amenable to the West. Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and their supporters have been vindicated in their longstanding ideological claims that negotiations with Israel are futile. Their conclusion is that patience pays off and that only mukawama, or [armed] resistance, can defeat the American-led Western alliance and dismantle the state of Israel.

It therefore comes as little surprise that Hamas was the first Islamist group publicly to congratulate the Taliban on its takeover of Afghanistan. . . . On August 17, 2021, Hamas’s leader Ismail Haniyeh told the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, “The demise of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is a prelude to the demise of the Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine.”

Hamas’s support for the Taliban also renders the Palestinian Authority’s relative silence on the issue noteworthy. The PA cannot publicly oppose the Taliban Islamists, since Hamas has become a more popular competitor for Palestinian public support in Gaza and the West Bank and has proven to be a more successful alternative as a “liberation movement.” [In other words], the Taliban’s takeover and the U.S. withdrawal have legitimized and empowered Hamas as the new standard for “resistance” against Israel’s existence as a democratic, Jewish-majority state in any borders.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Afghanistan, Hamas, Jihadism, Taliban

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict