Hamas official says relations with Tehran improved to pre-Syrian crisis level

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Mar 20, 2018
Hamas official says relations with Tehran improved to pre-Syrian crisis level

A senior member of the Palestinian Hamas has said the militant group and Tehran have recently managed to repair their relations which were strained as a result of the two sides’ differences over the Syrian conflict previously. According to Iran’s Fars News Agency, Mousa Abu Marzouk, a Hamas official, told a Palestinian TV that Hamas’ relationship with the Islamic Republic is “excellent” – adding that Iran responds positively to the group’s requests which are often denied by other countries. “At a time when all resources for Hamas are limited, no one has the right to criticize Hamas,” he reportedly told the London-based Arabic TV satellite channel al-Hiwar. Marzouk added that Hamas has yet to consider resuming diplomatic ties with the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

Comment: After a period of tension and uncertainty, Tehran and Hamas have lately taken steps to improve their relationship. The Hamas leadership’s decision not to support the embattled Assad regime and to move closer to Saudi Arabia and Qatar had soured the militant group’s ties with Iran. Tehran may be finding a solace now that Hamas is returning to the Iranian orbit. In October, a senior Hamas delegation visited Tehran and met with top Iranian leaders as the militant group in control of Gaza reached a reconciliation agreement with its Palestinian rival Fatah, which runs the West Bank.

And since the Trump administration announced in December that it will move the US embassy to Jerusalem, Tehran has also been trying to exploit Washington’s decision to further strengthen its ties with Hamas.

Soon after President Donald Trump’s speech on Jerusalem, President Hassan Rouhani and Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani called leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups to pledge Iran’s “all-out support” for their struggle against Israel. “We are confident that a new intifada will continue its path to attain the rights of the Palestinian nation,” Rouhani told Haniyeh over the phone, according to the Iranian media. Meanwhile, Soleimani told the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades that other groups within the “resistance axis in the region” are also ready to defend the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.