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August 15, 2017 4:53 pm

Filling in the Blanks in BBC Reports on Hamas, Qatar and Iran

avatar by Hadar Sela

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A Hamas rally in Ramallah. Photo: Hoheit via Wikimedia Commons.

While early BBC News website coverage of the rift between Qatar and several other Arab states did clarify that one of Saudi Arabia’s demands was for Qatar to cut ties with Hamas, the BBC did not inform its audiences of Qatar’s reported demand that a number of Hamas officials leave that country.

Yolande Knell later produced two reports on the topic of Qatari funding foe Hamas, which made vague — and brief — references to that subject:

“Meanwhile, some top Hamas figures living in exile in Doha have moved away to ease pressure on their patron.” BBC Radio 4  – June 15

“Many leaders of the group [Hamas] — including its former head, Khaled Meshaal, have been living in luxurious exile in Doha. Now as Hamas seeks to ease pressure on its patron, several have reportedly left at Qatar’s request.” BBC News website – June 20

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As was noted by BBC Watch when the story broke:

Among those reportedly asked to leave [Qatar] was Saleh al Arouri — the organizer of Hamas operations in Judea and Samaria who was previously based in Turkey, and was designated by the US Treasury in 2015. Arouri is said to have relocated to Malaysia or Lebanon.

At the beginning of this month, al-Arouri made an appearance in Beirut:

A senior Hamas terrorist believed by Israel to have planned the 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank was spotted publicly in Lebanon’s capital Beirut for the first time since he was expelled from Qatar in June.

In photos published Wednesday, Saleh al-Arouri can be seen meeting with senior Iranian official Hossein Amir Abdollahian — a former deputy foreign minister — and a number of other members of Hamas, among them senior spokesman Osama Hamdan and the terror group’s representative in Lebanon, Ali Barka. […]

After his expulsion from Qatar in June, al-Arouri moved to Lebanon, where he is being hosted by the Hezbollah terror group in its Dahieh stronghold in southern Beirut, Channel 2 reported last month.

Citing Palestinian sources, the report said that Arouri and two other senior Hamas figures have relocated to the Hezbollah-dominated neighborhood in the Lebanese capital, an area heavily protected with checkpoints on every access road.

Meanwhile, on August 5, the BBC News website published a report about Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration:

Dozens of world dignitaries attended Mr. Rouhani’s inauguration at Iran’s parliament, reflecting an easing in Iran’s isolation since the nuclear deal.

Guests included EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the chairman of the North Korean parliament, Kim Yong-nam, signalling a growing closeness between Tehran and Pyongyang particularly over defence matters.

The BBC did not however, report that the inauguration’s guest list also included Hamas officials:

A senior Hamas delegation arrived in Tehran on Friday in a bid to bolster the relationship with the Islamic Republic.

The visit included senior Hamas figure Izzat al-Rishq, currently based in Qatar, and head of the Hamas administration Saleh al-Arouri. They were formally invited to the swearing-in ceremony of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is beginning his second term in office.

That Hamas delegation apparently also met with IRGC representatives:

Senior members of the Hamas terror group met on Monday in Iran with representatives of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Arabic media reports.

A high-level Hamas delegation arrived in Tehran on Friday in order to attend the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and to “turn a new page in bilateral relations” between the two sides, according to a statement by Hamas.

This is the first Hamas visit to Iran since the group elected new leadership earlier in 2017. The rapprochement between Hamas and Iran is reportedly being facilitated by the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which is supported by Tehran.

The delegation consisted of Hamas political bureau members Ezzat al-Resheq, Saleh Arouri, Zaher Jabarin, and Osama Hamdan.

During its stay in Iran, the group met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday, as well as a number of other senior Iranian officials. […]

Hamas also needs to re-establish ties with Iran, as its current top backer Qatar is under fire from Gulf allies for supporting the Palestinian terror group.

At the end of that August 5 BBC report on Rouhani’s inauguration, audiences were told that:

Last month, the US state department accused Iran of undermining stability, security and prosperity in the Middle East.

It criticised Iran’s support for the Syrian government and groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas and accused it of prolonging the conflict in Yemen by providing support for Houthi rebels.

Had BBC audiences seen any coverage of Salah al-Arouri’s relocation from Qatar to the Hezbollah-ruled suburb of Beirut — and of the Hamas delegation’s visit to Tehran — they would, of course, be much better placed to understand what motivated those those US State Department accusations.

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