Hamas' Syrian position causes Iranian backlash
Iran has cut funding for Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas for siding with its Sunni co-religionists in Syria in their war against President Bashar al-Assad and the Shiite Hezbollah movement, Hamas leaders have said.
Khalil al-Haya, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said: “The financial support Iran has given to Hamas was influenced at some points by their position regarding the crisis in Syria, yet even so, it never ceased.”
Al-Haya said the Hamas’ budget is not suffering a crisis as a result of the shortfall in Iranian funds, stressing that the Islamist movement has other supporters.
Hamas’s deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad told The Telegraph this week that relations with Iran are “bad.” “Diplomatically, I have to use other words.”
Regarding Iran’s funding to Hamas, he said: “I can say it is not like the past. I cannot give you the exact amount. For supporting the Syrian revolution, we lost very much.”
“I cannot deny that since 2006 Iran supported Hamas with money and many [other] things. But the situation is not like the past. I cannot say that everything is normal,” Hamad said.
Iran’s annual financial aid to Hamas is believed to be around $20 million, which helps the group run its government in the Gaza Strip.
Both parties enjoyed warm ties since 2006 when Hamas won an election against the Western-backed Fatah movement.
But the crisis in Syria has led to problems between them. Hamas, a Sunni Islamist groups, supports Sunni rebels in Syria. Shiite Iran, however, sided with the Assad’s regime, which consists mainly of Allawites, who are close to Shiisim. Hezbollah, the Shiite Lebanese militia has also sided with Assad and sent fighters into Syria to support Assad.
“We never expected that a country like Iran, which talked about oppressed people and dictatorial regimes, would stand behind a dictator like Assad who is killing his own people,” Ahmed Yousef, an adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ prime minister, said, according to The Telegraph.