A senior Hamas delegation arrived in Tehran on Friday in a bid to bolster the relationship with the Islamic Republic.
The visit included senior Hamas figure Izzat al-Rishq, currently based in Qatar, and head of the Hamas administration Saleh al-Arouri. They were formally invited to the swearing-in ceremony of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is beginning his second term in office.
In a statement, Hamas hailed Iran’s “important role in supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, advocating for their rights and inspiring their resistance” against Israeli occupation and added that the visit would “further bolster the relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
The visit marks an up-tick in relations between Iran and Hamas, which have been strained in recent years. Despite strong Iranian financial support for Hamas, relations faltered over differing positions on the Syrian civil war. While Tehran backed Assad, Hamas chose instead to take a neutral position, which lead to its leadership being forced to leave Damascus.
However, Hamas’ recent internal elections saw the pro-Iranian bloc led by current Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and Salah al-Arouri make strong gains. Last week, al-Arouri met with former Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Beirut with the Iranian official stressing the importance of strengthening the unity of the axis of resistance and emphasising that Iran supports Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Hamas has increasingly found itself isolated in the Arab world. Saudi Arabia and its allies in the GCC define Hamas as a terror organisation and Egypt views it as an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is also facing a severe energy crisis in Gaza, which was exacerbated by PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to stop paying for Gaza’s energy bill.
[Photo: Mehr News ]