Ghassan Andoni / IMEMC – 2004-04-16 10:47:25
By assassinating Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder and the spiritual leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), the movement is expected to be more dominated by hardliners, militants, and radicals.
Yassin, who enjoyed no official position in the movement, was to Hamas what President Yasser Arafat was to the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah); the leader, the symbol, and more important the figure around whom the movement united.
While the prominent official positions in Hamas were mostly occupied by the “outside leadership”, the weight and influence of Yassin moved the center of Hamas’s decision making into the Palestinian Occupied territories.
Yassin, as he stood to the side of the Moderate Hamas leaders, managed to force a cease-fire agreement with the Palestinian Authority against the well of Khaled Mashal, the head of Hamas political bureau and his strong ally in Gaza Dr. Abdul-Aziz Al- Rantisi.
The assassination of the moderate Hamas leader Ismael Abu-Shanab three months aga, presented a major blow to the moderate and pragmatic camp in Hamas. Abu-Shanab and Ismael
Hanyeh, a close aid of Sheikh Yassin, headed the pragmatic camp in Hamas. Both saw a great value in establishing closer coordination with the Palestinian authority and lobbied for a cease-fire to cool down the conflict, at least temporarily.
The “moderate” camp in Hamas was more focused on the national interests of Palestinians than the needs of the global Islamic revolution.
With the assassination of Yassin, the moderate wing lost its protective shield and the door was opened for the hard- line “outside” leadership to posses more power and the “inside” hardliners to gain more control.
Was that the political aim of the ones who planned and approved the killing of the wheel-chaired Sheikh?
Was the aim to intervene in the internal struggle within the Islamic movement, hoping from Hamas to become more radical and more global?
Ghassan Andoni is the Director of Rapprochement at the International Middle East Media Center.