Are US policies helping Hamas???
Khaled Abu Toameh is a journalist for the Jerusalem Post...
Senior Hamas officials have become frequent visitors to the Egyptian capital of Cairo, where the authorities treat them as VIP's and invite them to meetings with top government officials.
Following the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, the Egyptians have invited several Hamas leaders for talks on ways of achieving a new cease-fire with Israel and ending the rift between Hamas and Fatah. Some of these Hamas representatives have been in Cairo for weeks now as guests of the Egyptian government.
Similarly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has launched a "national reconciliation dialogue" with Hamas for the first time since the Islamist movement kicked his loyalists out of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007. The dialogue, according to Abbas's aides, is aimed at persuading Hamas to agree to the formation of a unity government with Fatah.
Hamas leaders and spokesmen have not concealed their satisfaction with Hosni Muabrak and Mahmoud Abbas's new strategy.
Until recently, the two US-backed Arab leaders had refused to engage Hamas diplomatically to avoid legitimizing the movement and turning it into a significant player in the Middle East. Both Mubarak and Abbas even worked hard to convince many countries not to deal with Hamas out of fear that such a move would boost the movement's standing.
The two even went as far as boycotting an Arab summit in Doha, Qatar, in January because of the presence of Hamas leaders. So why have Mubarak and Abbas suddenly changed their positions? And why are they themselves now helping Hamas win recognition on the international arena?
Egyptian and Palestinian political analysts believe that the change is a direct result of the departure of the former US Administration, which was vehemently opposed to any form of dialogue with Hamas. Mubarak and Abbas feel comfortable to talk to Hamas because they realize that President Barack Obama's new administration is contemplating a new, conciliatory approach toward Iran and its proxies in the Middle East, namely the Syrians, Hizbullah and Hamas, they explain.