Why was Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal’s visit to Tehran unexpectedly postponed until further notice? This question is the focus of a new position paper (Arabic link) written by the Iranian Institute for Diplomacy think tank. The answer, according to them, is that “there are still a lack of confidence and lack of agreement between Iran and Hamas on several issues” in the Middle East.
The institute said that Meshaal believes that Iran supports the Palestinians only to serve its goals and its strategic interests. In this view, Tehran wants to force its will on the Middle East by controlling the “Palestinian resistance.”
According to the think tank, Meshaal is sure that Iran’s main goal at this point is an agreement with world powers on its nuclear program. This may explain why the Iranian government is trying to delay publicly meeting with the leader of a terrorist organization, despite efforts by Khaled al-Qadumi, Hamas bureau chief in Tehran, to arrange meetings for Meshaal with Iranian leaders.
Sources told the Iranian research institute that Iran decided to postpone the visit until further notice and avoid any meetings between Meshaal and the two most prominent Iranian leaders – Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. The fact he can’t meet the Iranian top echelon may have caused Meshaal himself to reconsider his visit.
In addition to Meshaal’s reported attitude, Iranian leaders have been upset by some actions taken recently by Hamas.
Iran is still angry at Hamas leaders over their statements made during the military operation in Gaza last summer, when Hamas preferred to emphasize the support they received from Turkey and Qatar, snubbing Iran’s documented support. In addition, the presence of Meshaal in Tehran would make Iran’s allies in Damascus furious, due to Hamas’ denunciations of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who had hosted Hamas leadership in his country for years before his country’s civil war. Hamas was consequently forced to relocate to Qatar.
Iran also angry with Meshaal’s announced intention to visit Turkey, which indicates that Hamas is still on the side of the axis hostile to Iran and its Syrian ally.
Last week, the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that Mashaal was asked to leave Qatar along with his entourage, and was desperately looking for a new country host. Anadolu also hinted that Mashaal is considering Ankara as his new home away from home. Though Hamas sources and Qatar officials have since denied the reports, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week that Meshaal would be welcome there.
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