The Guardian yesterday conveyed statements from multiple Hamas figures indicating that the Palestinian terror group has rebuilt warm relations with its long-time sponsor Iran, overcoming a temporary break in relations that had some analysts declaring that there was an opening for Western engagement.
“Relations between us are now almost back to how they were before [the crisis over Syria]. We believe we will soon be back at that point,” said Taher al-Nounou, an aide to Gaza’s prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh. Contacts between high-ranking officials from both sides had resumed, he said.
Another senior Hamas official, Bassem Naim, confirmed the renewed contacts between his organisation and Tehran. “Ties had never been conclusively severed, but recently there have been a number of meetings that brought new blood back into our relationship with Iran,” he said.
Much had been made by analysts and journalists of the distance between Hamas and Iran TIME took it as evidence against what it described as “Israeli p.r.” that “likes to portray Hamas as a satellite of Tehran,” speculating that Hamas had put itself in a position it to prosper in the post-Arab Spring Middle East. The National Interest suggested that the shift should cause the United States to engage Hamas and integrate it into peace efforts. Hamas’s time outside the Iranian orbit was short-lived. Reports emerged as early as July 2012 that representatives from the group were secretly meeting with Iranian figures to rebuild ties. By August there were multiple signals that reconciliation was being pursued and by September Hamas was again publicly positioning itself as part of an “Axis of Resistance” anchored by Iran. In early December Hamas senior member Mahmud al-Zahar was ready to declare that “relations between Hamas and Iran have resumed,” and by the end of that month Hamas sources were confirming that “warm relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran have been restored.” The rapid restoration of ties suggests that Hamas’s relationship with Iran may be more robust than some analysts had been willing to grant.
[Photo: Freedom House / Flickr]