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January 6, 2015 4:21 pm

Growing Talk of Hamas Moving from Qatar to Turkey Prompts Concern Over Integrity of NATO Alliance

avatar by Ben Cohen

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Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal with President Erdogan: the Islamist organization may become even closer to NATO member Turkey. Photo; Twitter

The ruling Hamas regime in Gaza has angrily denied Israeli claims that Khaled Mashaal, the head of the terror organization’s political bureau, has been expelled from his base in Qatar, at the same time leaving open the question of whether Mashaal will now move to NATO member Turkey, as some reports have suggested.

The Israeli government responded to reports that Mashaal had been thrown out of Qatar – where he has been living in a luxury hotel in the capital, Doha – by saying that it “welcomes Qatar’s decision.”

“We expect the Turkish government to act responsibly in a similar way,” the Israeli statement added.

However, Izzat Rishq, a top aide to Mashaal, flatly contradicted the Israeli claim, telling the Associated Press: “There is no basis of truth about brother Khaled Mashaal leaving Doha. We are in Doha now.”

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AP also reported that the Turkish Foreign Ministry said it had no information on a Qatari decision or plans by Mashaal to relocate to Turkey.

One pro-Hamas commentator in Gaza did shed some light on the mystery. In a posting on Facebook in Arabic, columnist Ibrahim al Madhoun said that Mashaal might well leave Qatar, but not “for the reasons reported.”

Those reasons, explained Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation For Defense of Democracies in Washington, DC, are rooted in Qatar’s currently rocky relationship with Egypt. The two countries have been at loggerheads for the last eighteen months over Qatar’s continued financial backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose rule in Egypt was overthrown by the current President, Abdel Fattah el Sisi, in July 2013. Egyptian and Qatari intelligence officials met in Cairo last month in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

“There is this reset between Qatar and Egypt, and one condition is for Qatar to dial back on support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas (the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood,)” Schanzer told The Algemeiner. Other Arab Gulf countries have also been supportive of Cairo’s demands, Schanzer said.

Schanzer pointed out that “Hamas has been wandering since 2012,” when the organization departed from Syria, its main headquarters, because of the brutal civil war raging there. Many Hamas officials traveled onto Egypt and Qatar; with the removal from power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Qatar stood out as a country that would still, Schanzer said, provide “finance and a welcoming environment.”

If Hamas is compelled to shift its operations from Qatar, Schanzer said, Turkey would be the group’s obvious next destination. “Turkey is right now a stronger location than even Qatar for Hamas headquarters,” Schanzer said. “There are two senior leaders already there, as well as around a dozen mid-level operatives and at least two financiers.”

Schanzer named the two leaders as Imad Al Alami, a longstanding Hamas envoy to Iran, and Salah al Arouri, the head of the West Bank branch of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the so-called military wing of Hamas. Al Arouri is widely regarded as being responsible for the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers who were hiking in the West Bank in June 2014.

“Mashaal’s arrival would cement the notion that Turkey is the top headquarters for Hamas,” Schanzer observed. “Whether he goes their voluntarily or because Qatar deports him, it would be undeniable that a NATO member state has become the leading sponsor of Hamas.”

Asked whether Turkey is in violation of the NATO Charter by hosting Hamas, Schanzer said there was a clear breach of the “spirit” of the western alliance, if not its rules.

“Technically, Turkey is operating within the legal boundaries of NATO and the UN, because Hamas is not designated terrorist group at the UN,” Schanzer said. “But NATO was designed to uphold the western fight against various threats, and I would think that terror organizations like Hamas would squarely fall within those parameters.”

Schanzer emphasized that support for Hamas was not the only problematic issue with regard to Turkish foreign policy. “Turkey has a huge Islamic State problem, as it’s the main jurisdiction for IS funding, weapons transfers and personnel transfers,” he said. “Turkey also helps Iran evade sanctions. When you look at the totality of Turkey’s foreign policy over the last few years, many serious questions are raised, including whether it’s a state sponsor of terrorism.”

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  • Lynne T

    A reported back story is that Saudi Arabia and some other conservative Muslim states are pushing Qatar to drop its love affair with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is as much a threat to them as the Islamic Republic of Iran and its quest for centrifuges.

  • ‘JPost’ announced today Jury selection is underway in the US. PA terrorism on trial. I would believe this man may well be called to court? He has been leading Hamas for some time. As trial unfolds new avenue’s will be under investigation. Things not looking good for the PA in 2015.

  • Reform School

    Concern over the “Integrity” of NATO? Now? With Erdogan?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmffgIqlAYA

    Is there not even one ‘journalist’ still on this planet?

    Do they All live on crack, afloat in space, or under rocks?

    • charlie johnson

      Hey.Reform School,, I loved the video.There are certainly a jovial bunch of fellows . Do they perform at the big clinker in Cuba?No wonder that our golfing parrot has to evict the inmates.

  • charlie johnson

    Whatever became of his enemy? He was fighting some group of Kurds that was trying to get the independence from Turkey? Did they run out of ammo?

  • James David

    Wherever the Hamas leadership goes it shows their total lack of concern for those, whom them rule over, that live in Gaza.
    In WWII the king and queen of England did not leave the people over whom they ruled but endured the same horrors. This cannot be said of the Hamas leadership who live in luxury while its people suffer. If they were true leaders they would have remained with the people of Gaza.
    I trust that Turkey, if the rumour is correct, will reject the move and that NATO will not be involved in this situation

  • Michael

    No matter how you slice it, with or without feathers, a turkey is a turkey. For geo political, military / security and financial reasons, Turkey flirted with the west. In truth, Turkey is quite schizophrenic in character and being an Islamic country, Turkey was having a difficult time adjusting to a true democracy where there is a separation of church and state, or in this case, Mosque and state.The translation of Islam is submission. Any country that is ruled by the doctrine of submission cannot be a democracy.

  • richard sherwin

    i thought Hamas got married to Turkey last year. And was keeping separate housing in Doha like most rich polygamists do if they can — and most Hamas Gazan leaders were accused of doing.

    Glad theyre reconciling again.. nice to know where they live. Whiats not clear here is who’s the husband and who’s the bride….

    o well, like many a postmod arrangment the EU loves…

  • Michael

    No matter how you slice it, with or without feathers, a turkey is a turkey. For geo political, military / security and financial reasons, Turkey flirted with the west. in truth, Turkey ris quite schizophrenic in character and being an Islamic country, Turkey was having a difficult time adjusting to a true democracy where there is a separation of church and state, upor in this case, Mosque and state.The translation of Islam is submission. Any country that is ruled by the doctrine of submission cannot be a democracy.

  • Jerry Rosenberg

    Turkey’s true intent, its anti-Israel posture, its
    co-operation with Iran and the outlawed brotherhood should now be evident. Maybe, even the nay sayers, those
    who blindly support the horrible actions of Iran ISIS
    and the leaders of the so called Arab Nation.
    In the meantime, let them kill each other, less of them to to worry about. First Turkey must be turfed out of
    NATo, and be isolated from the the world community

  • Kerry Berger

    If Turkey does not expel Hamas leadership, then this is cause for expelling Turkey from NATO and putting off any opportunity for Turkey to join the EU. Hamas must be isolated and destroyed either by force or by unilateral disarmament if they are to have any political say in a settlement. The same has to go for any of the PA’s Islamic militant factions.

  • Scott

    The Turks under Erdogan are complete Turkeys……..

  • judorebbe

    Integrity ??? NATO ??? Talk about ancient history …

  • Bernard Ross

    Turkey as a NATO member is a joke

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