At a time when Hamas is trying to improve its relations with Iran, Egypt and Qatar are also in the process of rapprochement after years of tension. Resumed ties between them will likely have an impact on the Palestinian terror group, al-Monitor predicted (Arabic link).
Hamas waited several days before making an announcement about the apparent warming of relations between Qatar and Egypt on December 20. On December 28, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar (Arabic link) welcomed the rapprochement and denied Qatar was pressuring the Hamas leadership to leave the Qatari capital of Doha. He also denied reports that Qatar was planning to suspend its economic support for Hamas over the warming of ties with Egypt.
Yousef Rizqa, the former minister of information and political adviser to former Hamas prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, said in an interview with Al-Monitor:
“The Egyptian-Qatari rapprochement serves the interest of the Palestinian national project, and Hamas has no concerns about its relations with Doha being harmed after the Doha-Cairo rapprochement because the movement is not a party to the internal Arab conflict, and it is accepted by the Arab capitals.”
However, an anonymous Egyptian official said in December 26 press statement that Qatar informed Hamas leaders that it would temporarily suspend its support (Arabic link) for the movement in a bid to pressure Hamas to change its policies against Egypt. Egypt accuses Hamas, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, of opposing the current regime and of complicity in the orchestrated attacks on Egyptian prisons in January, 2011 that helped bring the Brotherhood to power.
The Arabic news website “24” reported (Arabic link) that the rapprochement between Doha and Cairo “frustrated” Hamas. The website added that the moment in which Khaled Meshaal will leave Qatar is approaching.
Al-Monitor noted that Hamas’ fear of Qatar halting its financial support for the movement at Egypt’s request coincides with its renewed attempt to improve ties with Iran, as well as political head Khaled Meshaal’s recent visit to Turkey. Hamas may be reaching out to possible alternatives for regional support.
[Photo: Youtube, Mohammed Nashabat]