Hamas Leader Khaled Mashaal Reportedly Quits Syria
The Damascus-based Hamas leadership has left Syria, according to a report this weekend in the London-based Al Hayat newspaper.
The newspaper reported Saturday the Syrian government had asked the Hamas leaders to leave.
According to that report and one in Gulf News, the government of Qatar agreed to “permanently host” the terrorist group's political leadership – but not its "military" (terrorist) leaders. Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal has visited Doha numerous times in the past year.
Journalist Naser Najjar quoted political analyst Shaker Shabat, who explained the terrorist leaders were asked to endorse the Syrian regime or leave.
“Since Hamas considers itself a liberation movement, it found itself in a compromising situation since they wouldn't be able to support the protesters in their will for freedom and liberation,” Shaker told Gulf News.
He added unrest in Syria had contributed to the reconciliation between Hamas and the Ramallah-based Fatah faction, which leads the Palestinian Authority government based in Judea and Samaria. Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the PA in June 2007.
With the end of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime, and the current threat to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Najjar explained, “the Palestinian parties no longer felt secure, as these regimes threw financial and political support behind Fatah and Hamas.”
Egypt to Host Hamas Office?
PA sources told Al Hayat that Hamas military leaders were slated to return to Gaza, but the information could not be independently confirmed.
In addition, although Jordan rejected a request to host Hamas, the sources said that Egypt had agreed to allow Hamas to open an office in Cairo.
The office would allegedly be headed by deputy politburo chief Mousa Abu Marzouk.
US Diplomat in Doha with Hamas Spokesman
On February 23, U.S. Foreign Service Officer Rachel Schneller, an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, appeared in Doha on the same panel with Hamas politburo member and spokesman Osama Hamdan.
The panel was presented as part of a forum hosted by the Al Jazeera Center for Strategic Studies in the Qatari capital.
The fact that a semi-active U.S. diplomat was sitting together on a public platform with a Hamas official, and later admitted that she “shared a cup of tea” with him with the blessing of her State Department supervisors, made headlines at the Al Jazeera pan-Arab satellite news network.
Hamas is named on the U.S. State Department list of outlawed terrorist organizations with whom Americans are told not to do business nor to have any contact.
Wholesale Denials by Hamas
All of the above reports regarding moves from Damascus were denied Saturday by Hamas officials.
A spokesman for the terrorist group told Voice of Israel government radio that Hamas has “no intention” of leaving Damascus.
He also denied the report that Egypt had agreed to allow Hamas to open an office in Cairo.
A post on the Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond blog also quoted a Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan, as saying, “As far as I know, we were not told to move to any other country.”
The Hamas political leadership has been based in Syria for the past decade.