Hamas Deputy Leader Says Iran Ties Repaired
A top Hamas leader says the terrorist group has patched up relations with Iran after a breach over Syria’s civil war.
“I believe that bilateral relations between us and the Islamic Republic of Iran are back on track,” Hamas deputy political leader Mousa abu Marzook told Reuters.
When the Syrian civil war began, Tehran provided direct support for Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite regime as it massacred civilians. Many individual Hamas members sided with Syria’s Sunni rebels. Iran drastically cut its military and financial aid to Hamas, forcing the terrorist group to turn to Turkey and Qatar for support.
Turkey surpassed Iran as Hamas’ top funder, Israeli intelligence said last year. Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, combined with Egypt’s tightening of its border with the enclave, led Hamas to attempt to reset relations with Tehran.
Marzook met with Iranian leaders in July 2013 seeking to repair relations, and Hamas released a statement at the time saying that “certain issues had led to some apathy in the relationship.”
Now things have changed.
“There are many indications that … relations have been resumed in a proper way, as in the past,” Marzook said.
He also told reporters that Hamas would abide by the Egyptian-brokered truce as long as Israel also did, but reports indicate that Hamas has been rebuilding its armed wing since the end of fighting in August.
Marzook claims that only $150 million of $2.7 billion pledged to rebuild Gaza has appeared. A spokesperson from Hamas’ military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, warned of a “new explosion” with Israel unless reconstruction speeds up.
“The running out of our and our people’s patience towards impeding the reconstruction would generate consequences for the Israeli public and its leadership, and we warn of the moment of explosion,” a Hamas spokesperson identified as Abu Ubaida said.
Meanwhile, tension between Hamas and the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank are increasing. In August, Israel announced that it broke up a Hamas plot to depose the PA and President Mahmoud Abbas. Earlier this month, Hamas dissolved a “unity government” formed with the PA last spring. This week, posters appeared in Gaza that called Abbas a dictator and a traitor, and showed an image of him hanging.
A rapprochement between Hamas and Iran can only exacerbate a deteriorating situation.
Steven Emerson is the Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) where this article first appeared.