Hamas rekindles ties with Iran and Hezbollah

Published July 30th, 2013 - 07:56 GMT
EREZ CROSSING-DECEMBER 31:Palestinian Arabs carry Palestinian flags during a protest on the Gaza-Israel border on Dec 31 2009. (Sutterstock/ChameleonsEye)
EREZ CROSSING-DECEMBER 31:Palestinian Arabs carry Palestinian flags during a protest on the Gaza-Israel border on Dec 31 2009. (Sutterstock/ChameleonsEye)

There is increasing evidence that Hamas is reconsidering its alliances after having distanced itself from Iran and Hezbollah following the outbreak of the Syrian crisis.

Hamas official Ahmad Youssef revealed to the press that his movement has been conducting meetings with Hezbollah and Iran to repair their relationship. Youssef said that two prominent Hamas leaders met with Iranian officials in Beirut in the presence of representatives from Hezbollah, “in which the strategic relations between the movement and Iran were discussed.”

The news has sparked a great deal of speculation.

“Both sides stressed that their common enemy is Israel, with the understanding that each side understands the other’s position regarding areas of difference,” he added, “particularly when it comes to the situation in Syria.” He denied that the improvement in relations between Hamas and Iran was in any way connected to recent developments in Egypt.

A close observer of these discussions explained that earlier attempts at reconciliation – after both the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia and the emergence of strong differences over the Syrian crisis – had failed, due to the views of a substantial faction within Hamas that saw alternatives in both political and financial assistance.

The same source added, however, that in a very short time it became clear that the new sources of aid fell short of expectations. Worse yet, Iran had simply diverted its assistance to rival resistance factions in Gaza like Islamic Jihad, the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and an armed group affiliated with Fatah.

Sources pointed out that while Hamas insisted on their differences over the Syrian crisis, the other side raised concerns about the Palestinian movement’s growing involvement in the rise of the Brotherhood, causing the group’s neglect of its resistance activity in favor of helping Islamist movements consolidate power.

Several weeks ago – after the military wing of Hamas warned of supply shortages – a movement delegation headed by Mousa Abu Marzouq came to Lebanon and held private meetings at the Iranian embassy and with Hezbollah officials.

The meetings produced the following largely positive results: 1) resumption of Iranian financial aid to Hamas, though less than pre-crisis amounts; 2) opening direct channels of communication between Hamas and Hezbollah, particularly over the issue of keeping the Palestinian refugee camps out of the mounting Sunni-Shia tension in Lebanon; and 3) preparation for a leadership meeting between Hezbollah and Hamas, after the latter complained that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah had not received a high-level Hamas delegation in quite some time.


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