Is it Israel vs Hamas, or Egypt vs Qatar?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 |  Ryan Jones

The ongoing Gaza war is presumably a localized conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. But contentious truce talks in Cairo reveal that the violence that is costing so many their security and lives is rooted further afield.

When Hamas predictably broke the tenuous ceasefire on Tuesday, most assumed it was simply doing what terrorist organizations do. Palestinian Authority officials involved in the Cairo talks said that in reality, Hamas’ patrons in Qatar were pulling the strings.

A senior member of the ruling Palestinian faction Fatah told the pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat that Qatar had coerced Hamas into resuming the war so that the Gulf state could “teach a lesson” to its rivals in the Egyptian regime.

Qatar has long been a sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is currently playing host to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (Hamas is a direct descendant of the Muslim Brotherhood). Egypt recently ousted its own Muslim Brotherhood rulers, and has no love for the movement or anyone connected to it.

According to Al-Hayat, when Hamas demanded that Qatar be party to the truce talks, Egypt flatly refused, much to the satisfaction of Israel, which was flabbergasted late last month when US Secretary of State John Kerry consulted with Qatar in formulating his own Gaza ceasefire proposal.

Qatar, in turn, put the screws on Hamas, threatening to expel Mashaal if the group agreed to anything tabled by Egypt. An Israeli security source told Walla News that it was only hours later that Mashaal bypassed the local Hamas leadership in Gaza and ordered militant cells to resume fire on Israel.

The Muslim Brotherhood hijacking of the “Arab Spring” and the subsequent advance of the Islamic State have redrawn regional alliances, bringing some Arab states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia much closer to Israel as they face down a common enemy with global aspirations.

In reality, the Gaza conflagration is merely a minor sideshow of a much wider and more serious struggle.

PHOTO: Veiled Palestinian women demonstrate in Gaza while holding the Qatari flag.

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