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Hamas, a movement of institutions, not individuals

January 25, 2014 at 4:34 am

Hamas is a movement of institutions, with committees, laws and regulations which determine the status of each member. It is important to remember that before going into specifics about the Islamic Resistance Movement we should emphasise this point. And that when these committees decide on any issue in accordance with their generally accepted laws and regulations, no one, whether from the Hamas leadership or the ordinary membership, will go against the decision, even when it is contrary to their personal opinions.

Hamas’s internal regulations are clear about who heads its political bureau and how he is chosen; positions of authority in the movement are not sought after competitively and nobody will put themselves forward for election. These matters are decided by the movement through responsible bodies. It is not unusual for first class leaders try to avoid appointment to higher positions by nominating other members, knowing full well that others have put their name forward. As such, an official appointment within Hamas is seen as an assignment, not an individual honour.

Should Khaled Meshaal step down from his role with the movement’s political bureau, it would be regarded as something entirely natural, consistent with the regulations governing such matters. If Hamas believes that it is in the public interest for him to remain in the post, it would be subject to a vote as an exception, not the rule, to be assessed at various levels within the movement. If he was thus re-elected, Meshaal would have to accept and carry on.

The problem does not lie with Hamas as a movement, or its leaders; obedience is an issue with which its members have no problem. The problem actually lies with those who are seeking to look at Khaled Meshaal’s resignation from their own perspective and try to weave into it issues which, in reality, are not relevant. Looking for evidence of a dispute within the leadership, or the effects of regional matters such as the situation in Syria, reflects more of the critics’ own vision of what they’d like to see, rather than what is really happening.

My advice to the analysts who, for whatever reason, are seeking flaws here and there, and angling to find differences of opinion between Hamas leaders, is simple: don’t bother. Save your time and energy, because Hamas is a movement of institutions with clear guidelines on how it is to be run; it cannot be swayed by personal interests or the whims of individuals.

Hamas is not built around one person, or personality, and it does not really matter who the leaders are, as long as they are trustworthy and committed to mutual consultation (the Shura system) and the results thereof. Mid-level members can afford to differ from the movement’s general positions, but the leadership has to be committed to the decisions reached through the Shura.

Hence, Khaled Meshaal is welcome to remain as the head of the political bureau if that is what the movement decides; as is any other Hamas leader if that is the Shura decision. The Muslim Ummah (nation) does not agree on an error, and those in Hamas who have reached the leadership levels are among the elite of the movement and are chosen to be there. If Meshaal stays or leaves, it doesn’t make that much difference; he was preceded by great figures such as Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, may God have mercy on him, and Moussa Abu Marzouk; no doubt he will be followed by equally distinguished people. Whoever it is, there will be no unseemly competition or jockeying for position; everyone nominated will put himself at the service of his religion, his country and his movement. That’s the way that it has always been with Hamas, and that is what we expect it to remain.


The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.