The Director of Middle East Monitor, Dr Daud Abdullah, joined the "In conversation with MEMO" online programme this week to discuss his latest book, Engaging the World: The Making of Hamas's Foreign Policy. The book has been recommended widely, and is the first comprehensive account of how the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement conducts its international relations and sheds light on its attempts to develop a coherent and dynamic foreign policy from its founding in 1987 until its departure from Syria in 2012.
The discussion began with Abdullah fielding questions about why he wanted to write the book. Did he, for example, feel any apprehension in light of the growing campaign to have the Palestinian narrative silenced?
He also reflected on broader questions about foreign policy and how it applied to Hamas: do non-state actors actually have a foreign policy? Does Hamas have a grand foreign policy strategy? If so, what are its guiding principles; what are its red lines? In what areas is it willing to compromise?
Crucial moments in Hamas's engagement with the world were analysed during the discussion. These included the positions the movement took following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990; the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, which Hamas won convincingly; and its decision to leave Syria in 2012 after the country has plunged into civil-war.
The 2006 election features heavily in Dr Abdullah's book, and is regarded as a pivotal moment not only for Hamas, but also for the Palestinian people. He described why the movement felt the need to participate in the poll and what its victory meant in foreign policy terms.
The question of Hamas challenging its "terrorist" designation in Europe and US was also addressed.
In the final segment of the programme, MEMO's director looked to the future. Where should Hamas seek allies as the world moves from a unipolar world dominated by the US to a multi-polar world with China and Russia becoming more assertive?
As Professor Ilan Pappé has said, Engaging the World: The Making of Hamas's Foreign Policy "challenges successfully the common misrepresentation of Hamas in the West. It is a must read for anyone engaged with the Palestine issue and interested in an honest introduction to this important Palestinian movement."