As thick as thieves

A visit to Moscow last week by a delegation from Hamas should come as no surprise to anyone

As thick as thieves

Smoke rises over the Hamas-administered Gaza Strip following an Israeli airstrike. Photo: EPA-EFE / HANNIBAL HANSCHKE

Don’t make the mistake of being outraged or confused by the warm welcome afforded to the Hamas delegation that visited Moscow last week, after all, Vladimir Putin has been receiving the group’s representatives ever since he took office, and they’ve enjoyed cordial relations ever since.

This unpalatable friendship is also far from an isolated case — in 2018 Islamic Jihad visited Moscow, while last year it was the Taliban's turn. Despite the group being outlawed as a terrorist organisation in Russia, a Taliban delegation was invited to travel to Moscow, where the famously perceptive Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he found them to be really “sensible” guys.

Fresh from their Moscow junket, Hamas, which the Russian Foreign Ministry diplomatically refers to as the Islamic Resistance Movement, presumably to minimise the association with civilian murder the word Hamas has for some, reacted benignly to Moscow’s subsequent appeal for it to release its Russian hostages in Gaza, and even thanked Putin for his constructive position. It’s all about who you know, after all. And to think the international community still dares to call Russia a pariah!

What kind of global pariah can boast meetings not only with Hamas, but also, simultaneously and by total coincidence, with Iran’s deputy foreign minister? The two parties, naturally, took the opportunity to hold talks with each other while they were both in Moscow. Why wouldn’t they? Where else in the world might terrorists have a pleasant chat but in Russia?

It’s shameful, really. As lacking in legitimacy as these Putins and Lavrovs are, they do nonetheless represent Russia internationally.

Who would have thought that Russians would live to see the day when their country sat down for talks with such criminals?

Befriending ghouls is usually a policy borne of pragmatism, however immoral it may be. The Kremlin needs both the flow of Iranian weapons to continue uninterrupted and for Israel’s war on Gaza to go on for as long as possible to distract the international community from Moscow’s own war in Ukraine. As usual though, the Kremlin’s pragmatic calculations look set to fail. The Hamas visit seems to have been the last straw for Israel, which means that once the war in Gaza is over, Jerusalem could well start sending weapons to Ukraine.

The truth is that there’s far more than pragmatism at play here. Hamas is in the Kremlin because it and the Kremlin are the same thing. Hamas is not in the Kremlin because it’s paying a visit to Moscow, but because the Kremlin is nothing but Hamas.

The ideology of Hamas (as well as that of Islamic Jihad, ISIS and so on) is identical to that of the Kremlin. There are things that are right and things that are wrong but what exactly those are is down to the state or to certain specially designated groups to decide. The people must march in formation and follow orders, because one step out of line is considered treason. They must also all think and feel the correct way, with only traitors thinking or feeling differently.

Both believe themselves to be surrounded on all sides by enemies who have been dreaming of annihilating them for centuries. Both believe themselves to have morality in contrast to their godless opponents.

Dying in battle is considered by both to be the best thing that a human being can achieve. Living is, after all, optional. Community comes before individuality, while freedom is quite simply the root of all evil.

While there are, of course, fundamental differences between Islam and Russian Orthodox Christianity, I do believe that Islam plays the same role for Hamas as Orthodoxy does for Putin: Allah and Jesus are mere figureheads for their totalitarian ideology.

Unlike BRICS, a club brought together by fleeting economic interests and whose demise is therefore inevitable, shared values and similar worldviews are at the heart of the Kremlin’s union with Hamas, making it an alliance more akin to that of the EU or NATO.

This value-based union, an axis of evil if you will, unites others beyond Putin’s Russia and Islamist radicals, however. It also includes North Korea where the same ideology exists despite a totally distinct cultural foundation, and of course China, albeit at some remove. Then there’s the diverse global network of vassals cultivated and owned by Russia such as Alternative for Germany, Marine Le Pen, QAnon, and other “useful idiots”.

This axis, like the last, has never been formalised, but nonetheless threatens to drive the world ever closer to World War III. And should this war come to pass, rather than fighting for territories or resources, it will be one the enemy wages out of hatred for freedom.

Views expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of Novaya Gazeta Europe.

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