Syrian Islamists accused America of “political floundering” and Hamas called Secretary of State John Kerry “delusional” after he suggested that regional governments were prepared to “make peace with Israel.”
On Monday, Hamas’ spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement that “Kerry’s wish to eliminate Hamas from the West Bank is mere delusion,” adding that “no Arab or international alliance will succeed in breaking its will.”
Speaking at the Brookings Institution’s annual Saban Forum on Sunday, Kerry identified a new coalition of states “with little in common but a shared aversion to extremists,” which “believe there is in this moment the ability to create a new regional alliance against the Hamases the Daeshes and the Ahrar al-Shams and the Boko Harams and so forth.” (“Daesh” is a derogatory Arabic acronym for the Islamic State terror group which Kerry has recently begun using.)
Terror groups and analysts alike objected to Kerry’s conflation of Hamas, a localized Palestinian group, with the regionally ambitious Islamic State, Syria’s Ahrar al-Sham, and Nigeria’s Boko Haram. On Twitter, Ahrar al-Sham commander Muhammad Talal Bazerbashi remarked that Kerry “putting those names all together” indicated the United States’ “political floundering.” Regional governments which sense an existential threat from ISIS, for example, retain strong sympathies for Hamas and the Palestinian cause.
Kerry singled out Egypt’s President Abdulfattah al-Sisi, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, and Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed as leaders who “view the economic prowess of Israel as an asset to all of them.” Egypt enjoys formal diplomatic relations with Israel, though strained at times, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not recognize Israeli statehood. All three, however, have demonstrated a strong desire in recent years and months to eliminate dangerous extremist activities within their borders. (RELATED: White House Inaction On Muslim Brotherhood Fuels Bizarre Conspiracy Theories)
Writing in Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar on Monday, Washington-based journalist Hisham Melhem contrasted Kerry’s statement with Sunday’s statement by Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif following a meeting with his Syrian counterpart, in which he said an Israeli raid on Syrian military assets showed that Israel is no better than Islamic extremist groups.
London-based pan-Arab outlet Al-Quds al-Arabi, meanwhile, called Iran America’s “chief contractor” in the air and ground war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, asking, “what, then, is the Arabs’ place in this equation?”
As Jordanian newspaper Assabeel helpfully pointed out, the Brookings Middle East policy center that hosted the conference was founded by Haim Saban, “a Jewish American billionaire” who is one of the country’s greatest “investors in the communications and entertainment industry.” Aside from foreign policy, Saban is perhaps best-known for producing “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” for American television.
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