Egypt Aims to Strangle the Muslim Brotherhood With its Gaza Peace Plan

The Egypt-brokered negotiations between rival groups Fatah and Hamas in the Palestinian territories resulted in the latter ceding control of the Gaza Strip after a decade-long rule in the enclave.

The major development was welcomed by some as a sign of progress in restoring calm in the region. However, other reasons might be behind Egypt's involvement in the peace process.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's strategic role in pushing for a quick reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah is an extension of Egypt's domestic and regional policy to strangle the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood group within and outside Egypt.

Hamas and its founder, Sheikh Yassine—famously known as 'the blind sheikh'—was birthed as the militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, back when Gaza was part of Egypt. Cairo is very concerned that Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas.

Sisi understands that if Hamas is disarmed in the Gaza Strip and loses control of the border crossing links with Egypt, the border incursions of Islamic jihadist groups that are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood will cease. Jihadists adverse to Egyptian peace and stability will no longer be able to enjoy the cover provided by Hamas and the use of Gaza Strip as a safe haven.

Egypt is banking on the idea that a full disarmament and reconciliation of Hamas with Fatah will lead to the formation of a Palestinian unity front; perhaps free from the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and states like Iran and Qatar which are accused by Egypt and Israel of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip under Hamas control.

With a recent surge in terrorist attacks in the Northern Sinai region of Egypt—carried out by suspected Islamist groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood against soft civilian and hard military targets—Egypt is worried that a permanent foothold and expansion of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza could have a huge security effect on Egypt's political and economic stability.

Fatah and Hamas
Hamas's new deputy leader Salah al-Aruri (seated L) and Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmad (seated R) sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo on October 12, 2017, as the two rival Palestinian movements ended their decade-long split following negotiations overseen by Egypt. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Image

Egypt is concerned with the network of Jihadists building up along the Hamas-controlled borders, with the Sinai Province terrorist group linked to the Islamic State core and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Bringing Hamas and Fatah together is a political tactic that can bring military advantage for Egypt's counter-insurgency strategy in the region.

Sisi is under enormous pressure at home to come up with quick answers to the security failures under his watch. Uniting Fatah and Hamas is the first domestic step towards a regional protection strategy. Whether Hamas is willing to give up its control of the borders with Egypt or to fully accept a full disarmament remains to be seen.

There are more reasons to be skeptical about the real intentions of the current Egyptian-driven reconciliation process because the objectives are wrapped with national interest clothing.

In its totality, this Hamas-Fatah reconciliation may be good for Palestine, but it has the appearance of a long-term geopolitical strategy for Egypt to secure its borders and strangulate the Muslim Brotherhood and its international support system.

It does not seem to be a 'Good Samaritan's' attempt to broker peace between Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah or the benefit of a process to bring a united Palestine to the same table with Israel for a lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli crisis.