What the Qatar crisis means for Hamas

  • June 18, 2017
  • 330 Views

Story highlights

  • Hamas spokesman says group hasn’t been requested to depart Qatar
  • Qatar says Hamas’ presence is a part of effort to mediate between the Palestinian factions
It was no shock that Hamas selected Qatar. It’s the dwelling of outgoing Hamas chief, Khaled Meshaal, and far of his senior management.

“Qatar is quite important for Hamas,” stated H.A. Hellyer, a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council. “Qatar provides strong financial aid to the occupied Palestinian territories and is a safe haven for a number of Hamas leaders.”

The current crisis in the Persian Gulf area is placing that relationship in jeopardy. Earlier this month, 9 nations together with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed monetary embargoes of various severity.
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas unveiled a new policy document in Qatar in May.

The announcement was the fruits of a feud that had been simmering for years. The 9 nations accused Doha of helping terrorist organizations, offering assist for the Muslim Brotherhood and of being far too cozy with Iran.

Ironically maybe, Qatar’s relationship with Hamas had not been amongst the largest points dividing the area.

Unlike the US, Britain, and Europe, all of which designate Hamas as a terrorist group, Arab states — together with Qatar — don’t. This was one thing Qatar’s Foreign Minister sought to remind individuals in an interview with Russia’s RT, in response to a name from his Saudi counterpart that Qatar cease supporting Hamas.

“The US views Hamas as a terror organization. But to the rest of the Arab nations, it is a legitimate resistance movement. We do not support Hamas, we support the Palestinian people,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani stated.

“Hamas’ presence [in Doha] is coordinated with the US and the countries in the region, and it’s part of our effort to mediate between the Palestinian factions to reach reconciliation.”

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Unreasonably squeezed?

For its half, Hamas says it’s being squeezed unreasonably.

“The Gulf Countries are pressuring Qatar to cut relations with resistance organizations. This is unacceptable and we refuse this pressure,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom stated in a press release to CNN. “We are a resistance movement and the whole world is a witness to this.”

Hamas is seen as having been below a sequence of pressures for the previous few years, mirrored in some important inside modifications.

Last month, a new leader was announced — Ismail Haniya is taking up from longtime chief Meshaal — at the similar time as the militant group issued its new coverage doc.

While Israel pointed to the truth the new doc continued to espouse violent resistance, and a dedication to the “rejection of the Zionist entity,” others observers stated the doc’s description of a Palestinian state with the borders present on the eve of the Six Day War in 1967 supplied proof of a brand new moderation.

As Hamas rank and file had been digesting these modifications, so the management was out of the blue compelled to pay cautious consideration to diplomatic developments. Hellyer sees two important causes the 9 regional allies are turning their consideration in direction of Hamas.

“First, Hamas has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood organization, which puts it in the firing line of Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia,” Hellyer says. “But I think this has more to do with a western audience. The Saudi rulers took advantage of Trump’s recognition of them as a powerful actor in the region and that might have encouraged them.”

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Al Jazeera: ‘Thorn’

Al Jazeera, primarily based in Qatar, has been a thorn in the aspect of regional autocrats for years. Qatar’s regional affect additionally comes from assist for Islamists, whether or not it’s the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas at one finish of the spectrum, or Al Qaeda at the different.

Doha has used this sway to barter with numerous teams together with the Taliban, in addition to to assist negotiate ceasefires between Israel and Hamas.

In late 2010 and into 2011, Qatar noticed its affect all through the Middle East rise sharply. Al Jazeera, already a thorn in the aspect of Arab autocrats, reported extensively on the Arab Spring.

The Al Jazeera Arabic channel grew extra roots in Egypt after the rebellion and election of Mohamed Morsy who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood. The worldwide group praised the new Egyptian president for bringing a swift finish to a conflict between Gaza militants and Israel that very same yr.

In the future, although, because it unraveled throughout the area, the Arab Spring proved to be disastrous for Hamas, which noticed the variety of nations it might name a good friend whittled away.

“Hamas had very strong relations with Syria, Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and Iran,” says Mustafa Barghouti, an unbiased Palestinian politician. “Things have changed over time so they had to diversify relations.”

Move from Damascus

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