Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal has reportedly become a persona non grata in his erstwhile home of Qatar, after the Gulf state decided to expel the terrorist group's leader due to international pressure.
However, Hamas spokesperson Ismail Radwan responded by claiming the reports were not true, and were only meant to "sow tension and confusion," distancing Hamas and Qatar. According to Radwan, Mashaal is not being expelled.
International outcry has demanded that Qatar, a key sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Gaza offshoot Hamas, distance itself from terror, and has included calls to stop Qatar from hosting the World Cup in 2022 unless it ceases its funding of terrorism.
That pressure on Saturday led Qatar to expel seven senior Muslim Brotherhood members in an effort to close ever growing gaps with Egypt; by contrast Turkey, also a leading sponsor of Hamas, said it would welcome the seven leaders.
Experts have argued in recent months that Qatar's oil resources and financial ties with the West have prevented western countries from threatening the Gulf state regarding its terror ties, even as they note Qatar hopes to be viewed as an enlightened nation by the world, making its hosting of the World Cup a key pressure point for the country.
This is in fact not the first time in recent weeks that Qatar has weighed expelling Mashaal.
Back in August during Operation Protective Edge, a senior member of the Palestinian Authority (PA) said Hamas chose to breach one of the many ceasefires with Israel due to a Qatari threat to expel Mashaal.
The source reported that Qatar had pushed Hamas to demand it play an active role in Cairo truce talks, a proposal which Egypt refused, stipulating that Qatar apologize for its policies as the leading sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar specifically stated it would force Mashaal to leave if Hamas agreed to the Egyptian truce proposal in its structure at the time.
Indeed Hamas rejected the proposal, with Mashaal saying "we want serious negotiations that lead to an end of the aggression on Gaza and granting the Palestinian demands."
While Qatar may have finally submitted to international pressure and asked Mashaal to leave, it is worth noting that the state remains a key sponsor of the Hamas terror organization.
Reportedly Mashaal is currently considering moving to Tunisia or Turkey.