Monday, August 17, 2009

Hamas's Economic Rise

Sanctions on a territory tend to strengthen the internal hand of whomever can control the remaining supplies. In the Gaza Strip, that means Hamas, with its control of smuggling tunnels, taxes, and aid from abroad:
"Mr. Khaldi is part of a coterie of local businessmen close to Hamas who appear to have emerged as the big financial winners from the Israeli-imposed economic blockade of this tiny enclave.

"The two-year-old blockade has strangled Gaza's economy and put the majority of Gazans out of business. Israel's logic has been that a collapsing economy will convince Gaza's people to push Hamas from power. But instead, Hamas – which rose to prominence as a 'clean' alternative to the famously corrupt Fatah – has benefited handsomely. Now, the movement and its friends appear to be supplanting Gaza's traditional business leaders, which could entrench its political position as well.

"They're doing so, veteran Gaza businessmen say, thanks to the fact that Hamas can generate capital while all its potential competitors are running dry. They charge that Hamas and its associates have been using their control of smuggling tunnels, money changing, and tax revenue to buy prime tracts of land and buildings across Gaza, particularly along the enclave's main boulevards."

Gazans already see Fatah as corrupt. With Hamas walking the same path, it isn't surprising they're starting to look to new players: Salafi groups which have been outside the political process.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)



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