Hamas, the terror group ruling Gaza, has renewed its alliance with Tehran, after a two-year hiatus, when Cairo, under Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, stepped up its strategic and financial backing, according to Middle East news site Al-Monitor on Tuesday.
Al-Monitor said Iranian financial support for Hamas has resumed, but at “a level lower than that which preceded the rupture between the two at the end of 2012.”
Citing a source close to Hamas’ political leadership, Al Monitor said Qatar, Hamas’s other backer, helped broker peace with Iran, with Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah visiting Tehran last month for that purpose. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal is now expected to visit Tehran to meet Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to formally seal their resumed friendship.
“In his meeting with Meshaal and in his recent and first visit to Qatar, Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ramadan Shalah discussed the details of the upcoming visit to Tehran,” Al-Monitor said.
On March 10, the Iranian Shura Council leader Ali Larijani said, “Iran is supporting Hamas on the grounds that it is a resistance movement. … Our relationship with [Hamas] is good and has returned to what it was. We have no problems with [Hamas].”
Since the ouster of the Morsi government in Egypt, Hamas has been under strain, as the Egyptian Army and Israel Defense Forces worked to cut off its extensive tunnel network, used for perpetrating terror attacks, as well as smuggling, cutting its biggest source of funds.
Al-Monitor interviewed a Hamas leader in Gaza, whose denials informed the context of the group’s hunt for financial backing: “The movement is not jumping from one lap to another, from Iran, then Egypt, then Qatar and finally back to Iran. [Hamas] has not necessarily erred.”
Al-Monitor wrote: “The source conceded that the turn in regional events following former President Mohammed Morsi’s ouster in Egypt has hastened the progress of Iran-Hamas ties. Improvement in ties between Qatar, which is home to Meshaal, and Iran is also a key factor in Hamas’ own warming of ties with Tehran.”
The source said that after the coup in Egypt “the tension between Qatar and Saudi Arabia” led to improved relations between Qatar and Iran, which “has cast a shadow over Hamas in a positive way.”
However, Iran’s other allies, Syria and Hezbollah,”do not agree about accepting Hamas back into their axis,” Al-Monitor said.
That said, Hamas leadership “has begun to send delegations to Lebanese parties to absolve Hamas of accusations that it is the main incubator of jihadist and Salafist groups in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon; this has prompted Hamas representatives to act to prove their innocence to Hezbollah. The links between the two sides are still there and neither side is thinking of cutting them, despite the complexities and differences, especially since their common ground is substantial.”
Another source close to Hamas said: “The return of the relationship between them is now at hand, because the decision-makers in Shiite Tehran, in light of the sectarian and political polarization dominating the region, want to restore the relationship with Sunni Hamas and strengthen ties with it. Hamas, in turn, needs such a relationship at this critical stage and hopes that Meshaal’s visit will accomplish that. This will pump new support in Hamas’ arteries and help it withstand the siege, which is worsening in an unprecedented way.”