Reuters yesterday reported on declarations from a top Hamas figure asserting that the Palestinian terror group had “resumed” its relations with Iran, after several months in which the organization was estranged from its long-time sponsor in Tehran due to sectarian tensions generated by the almost three-year Syrian conflict.
“Relations between Hamas and Iran have resumed,” Mahmud al-Zahar told reporters at a news conference in Gaza, the Palestinian enclave ruled by Hamas since 2007. Ties had been “affected by the Syria situation, and Hamas has withdrawn from Syria so that it can’t be identified with this or that side,” he said. “We’ve confirmed we are not interfering in the Syrian case, or in any other Arab country.”
The statements included the assertion that there had never been a complete “cut” in ties between Iran and Hamas.
“Our relations with Iran were not cut, and we don’t wish to cut ties with any Arab countries either, even those that are fighting against us,” he said in reference to Egypt, which has taken a hard line against the Islamist group since the military overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi in July.
Zahar has long been prominent as a key figure in efforts to keep Hamas within Iran’s camp, and his statements have been read by some analysts as designed to facilitate the reestablishment of ties rather than as actually assessing that those ties had been reestablished. Nonetheless, Zahar’s declarations align with multiple similar indications in recent months. In August Iranian diplomats leaked that Hamas was seeking rapprochement, and in September top Hamas officials announced that they had reestablished an “axis of resistance” with Iran and its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah.
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