Hamas’s Desertion of Assad is Body Blow

What is the significance of Hamas, an extremist group long resident in Damascus, suddenly throwing its weight behind the anti-Assad uprising? At first blush it is easy to dismiss it with a snort as rats leaving a sinking ship, and there is much truth in this analysis, but there is also more than that going on here–and it bodes ill for Bashar al-Assad’s longevity. A friend who follows the Middle East closely emails me this compelling analysis which bears a close read:

This development, which I personally find astonishing (a sentiment that I have to think is shared by the Syrian regime), is a body blow to Bashar al-Assad’s fundamental narrative, in which he claims to be targeted by the west and Israel because of his leadership of the “resistance” and his support for the Palestinian cause. When the party that is the Palestinian resistance chooses to desert Assad’s regime, the regime’s resistance and pro-Palestine narrative collapses–and that is what [Ismail] Haniyeh’s speech yesterday accomplished.

All of that strikes me as accurate, but of course even a doomed Assad can still take many people down with him–as his security forces are currently doing in Homs. That is all the more reason for other states including the U.S. and our regional allies to do more to help the opposition and thereby shorten Syria’s ongoing civil war. It may be odd to be on the same side as Hamas, but if the U.S. and more moderate nations don’t act to help the Syrians then we will forfeit influence in the future to the likes of Hamas and al-Qaeda.