Enemies May Overstate Hamas Split

It's a muddle of 'sub-leaderships,' says Economist
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2007 10:41 AM CST
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas talks to reporters after his meeting with Egyptian resident Hosni Mubarak, unseen, in Cairo, Egypt Sunday, Sept. 30, 2007. Under cover of darkness, Egypt...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Reports of strife within the Palestinian faction Hamas are likely exaggerated, the Economist says. The Islamist party may be splitting under the pressure of sanctions, but reports are hard to judge because “few observers are neutral.” There are “sub-leaderships," though. After seizing Gaza in June, for example, Hamas' military wing clearly ran free of PM Ismail Haniyeh’s control.

Some said political chief Khaled Meshal, exiled in Damascus, was calling the shots, but that notion died when Meshal and Haniyeh apologized for threats of a West Bank takeover. Israel and the US have further muddied the waters by portraying Hamas as divided and extremist, the Economist notes—even as Meshal’s backers seek to encourage a Western dialogue.