Politics rarely sees such odd bedfellows as the friendship between Shiite Iran and the staunchly Sunni Hamas. Hamas, which traces its roots back to the Muslim Brotherhood, was dependent on the Alawi-dominated Syrian regime for political protection and, at a time when few Sunni backers were interested, was eager to take Iranian money, presumably praying the heresy cooties off of it in special ceremonies.But now that Assad is on the skids and MB-friendly forces have gained strength in places like Turkey and Egypt, Hamas has a whole new set of options and is rapidly moving to purge itself of any tainted associations. The latest sign of fancy footwork: an outbreak of bigotry and hatred in Gaza, where armed Hamas thugs, excuse me, community organizers and activists, burst into a Shiite prayer meeting and beat up some of the worshipers and arrested others. The report comes from Ha’aretz, a liberal Israeli newspaper, which notes that this incident was part of a wider pattern of pressure on Shiite religious and charitable organizations in Gaza.The Iranians do not seem to be taking all this lying down. Conversions from Sunni to Shiite Islam are reportedly up in Gaza, with many of the new converts linked to the even more radical Islamic Jihad group. Iran badly needs for there to be trouble in and around Israel, and for Iranian linked groups to be seen to be leading an “Islamic resistance” against the hated Jewish state. As Hamas slips out from under the mullah’s grasp, they are looking for new ways to keep their hand in the game.Hamas, with new friends in the Egyptian and Turkish governments, may be looking for ways to reposition itself as a more respectable organization, unlocking funding from the EU and other sources, and competing internationally against Fatah and the West Bank based PA for the mantle of the leading representative of the Palestinian national movement. That strategy is likely to push Hamas further down the path of tactical moderation (no provocative incidents, no rocket attacks on Israel) as it seeks to turn Gaza into a wealthier and more solid power base.This creates an opening to the left of Hamas; groups like Islamic Jihad and its Iranian patrons can denounce Hamas’ moderation and challenge its credentials as the leader of genuine rejectionism. Iran will be only too happy to pick up the slack. In other words, the Middle East forecast for now is: more of the same.