Hamas and Iran Slowly Restoring Ties
The ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has enabled Hamas to begin to restore its strained relations with Iran, according to Arab journalist Ali Hashem.
Hamas recently admitted that it was paying a heavy price in lost aid over its assistance to the rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Iran, who supports Assad in the civil war, reportedly punished Hamas by making a meaningful cut in its aid to Hamas, which had previously reached amounts as large as 15 million Australian dollars per month. Last year as the rift between the sides deepened, a senior Hamas official claimed that the terror group will not do Iran's bidding in any war with Israel.
However, in an article on the Al-Monitor website on Monday, Hashem wrote, “One month ago, I asked an Iranian diplomat in Beirut about relations with Hamas and whether there is any chance things will return to normal. ‘The door was never closed,’ he told me. ‘Their bureau in Tehran is still functioning, and we still have contacts with them, it’s them who decided to downgrade relations, not us.’”
Hashem noted that not of all Hamas’s bridges were burned in Tehran, despite the rift over Syria, thanks to a few officials in Gaza who decided on their own that relations with Iran shouldn’t halt.
One of those, wrote Hashem was Ahmad Jaabari, who maintained strong ties with Iranian officials and had his own lobby within the political bureau. Jaabari was killed by Israel in what started the counterterrorism Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza last November.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of the founding fathers of Hamas, both influenced and was influenced by Jaabari, noted Hashem, and is one of few officials in the movement who continued to praise Iran and its role and maintained strong relations with Tehran.
“In November 2012, after the eight-day war, I visited Gaza,” wrote Hashem. “Back then, Zahar responded to Khaled Meshaal ignoring Iran’s role by putting on his military uniform and conducting a news conference to thank Tehran. A few days later, posters were raised in Gaza thanking the Islamic republic in Arabic, English, Farsi and Hebrew. Pro-Meshaal members tried to tear down the posters, but members of the military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, intervened and the posters stayed.”
Hashem further notes that in Tehran, on the day of Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration as president, he welcomed the old “resistance triad” - Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
"The president wanted to send a clear message to Hamas that they are welcome,” a source in Tehran told Hashem. “There were contacts during the past months to revive the relations, but after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt things became serious and Hamas showed much interest in healing the wounds, so meetings became very fruitful, and they were mainly in Beirut.”
“We told Hamas a long time ago we don’t mind them having different views on any issue, except for Israel, still they have to be rational in their views, and as we understood many in their leadership are reviewing their position on the war in Syria,” the source added, according to Al-Monitor.