Understanding Hamas and the further unraveling of the Middle East

The Middle East need not have unraveled in the way that it did; nor can we separate out the escalating shooting war between Israel and Hamas from the larger conflict engulfing the entire region. Since the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens June 12, likely by Hamas terrorists, the group has hit Israel almost daily with its arsenal of ever more sophisticated rocketry. To be sure, the crisis deepened with the murder of a Palestinian teen, likely by Israeli revenge-seekers. But those assailants have already been arrested. The first shot — the kidnapping of the teens, was from Hamas.

Why has Hamas suddenly felt empowered to strike at Israel? Let’s start with the fact that its rival Palestinian group, Fatah, yet again engaged in empty peace talks with Israel initiated by the Obama White House and Kerry State Department with little regard for whether there were any real prospects for peace, nor any regard for the ramifications of failure. Continue with the fact that one of the guarantors of peace and security for the State of Israel — the United States — appears out to lunch on Middle East challenges from Yemen to Iraq to Syria to Turkey and beyond. And finally, think about Iran, the fons et origo of so much of the woe now afflicting innocent civilians across the region.

The White House and the State Department like to talk about the “cycle of violence” in the Middle East. It’s an empty phrase, but let them own it… Where did the “cycle of violence” now overtaking the Levant begin? Look first to Iran. Why did Assad feel empowered to take on his own people and slaughter those who wished to see him step down? Because he had arms, money and backing from Iran, and its proxy Hezbollah. Why did Hamas feel empowered to take on the Israelis at the very moment they were theoretically starting to share power over all Palestinians? Because of money and arms from Iran. Why are Sunni terrorist groups now flooding into that part of the Middle East? Because of the battle that was first fueled by Iran. And what has the Obama administration done about Iran? Sat down and talked to the Iranians, downplayed criticism of the Iranians, not supported moderate forces opposing the Iranians.

None of this is to suggest that somehow al Qaeda, or Qatar, or regional leaders are blame free; far from it. But the Iranians have somehow eluded the steely eyed focus of the Obama administration. Why? Simple: like the ill-considered peace process pushed with regard only for the vanity of its proponents in Washington, Iran is the object of vain hopes for a nuclear accord — one unlikely to slow down Iran’s drive toward a weapon — that will burnish the reputation of its backers in the White House. Iran and its proxies are getting away with murder, and the President of the United States appears not to care.

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