Iranian help very important for Hamas after ties restored with Syria | Information


Ten years in the past, Hamas, the Palestinian motion that guidelines the Gaza Strip, publicly got here out in help of the rebellion towards Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“I salute all of the nations of the Arab Spring and I salute the heroic individuals of Syria who’re striving for freedom, democracy and reform,” Ismail Haniya, considered one of Hamas leaders, introduced at Friday prayers at Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.

“The Syrian revolution is an Arab revolution,” worshippers chanted again, as Hamas’s break with the Syrian authorities, which used to host its leaders, turned evident.

However now, a decade on, Hamas has reversed its place, and ties have been restored.

The transfer has sparked controversy within the Arab world, but it surely has not elicited shock, with analysts saying that the Hamas resolution displays its backing of Iran and its allies – Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Syria – which have supported its struggle towards Israel.

“Though Hamas sided partially with Syria’s opposition for a time, it by no means totally broke away from Iran’s orbit and as such, it was at all times going to return again to Assad’s fold finally,” mentioned Charles Lister, senior fellow on the Center East Institute.

“Hamas’s existence is outlined by its resistance to Israel and to maintain that, it not solely wants Iran’s strategic help, it wants Syria too,” he informed Al Jazeera.


Relations between Syria and the Palestinian motion have been sturdy for a few years, with Damascus being a protected haven for Hamas’s management because the early 2000s. Syria was additionally dwelling to not less than 500,000 Palestinians, in accordance with United Nations estimates.

However the begin of the 2011 Syrian revolt proved to be a breaking level of their ties, as relations rapidly soured between Hamas and its longtime ally.

Hamas leaders rejected stress from al-Assad to rally in his help in Damascus, and as an alternative endorsed the opposition. They have been then swiftly compelled to shutter their places of work within the Syrian capital metropolis, earlier than transferring to Qatar in 2012.

Regardless of the obvious freeze in ties, discussions to fix relations have lengthy continued amongst Hamas leaders, in accordance with senior Hamas official Bassem Naim, who informed Al Jazeera that Hamas “by no means determined to chop ties with Damascus”.

In an announcement on September 15, Hamas mentioned it was indebted to Damascus which had “embraced” the Palestinian individuals and resistance for many years.

It added that it was now the group’s flip to “stand” with Syria within the face of “brutal aggression”, in reference to escalating Israeli assaults on Syria – the newest of which killed 5 troopers in an air assault on Damascus Worldwide Airport on September 17.

“The inspiration of our engagement within the area is considered one of continuity for the sake of the Palestinian trigger,” mentioned Naim, who heads Hamas’s council of political and overseas affairs. “We want the help of all Muslim and Arab nations and other people.”

“Chopping ties with any entity should be justified by way of the pursuits of the Palestinian individuals. In that regard, the one relation we refuse is with the Israeli occupation,” he added.

Naim argued that, as some Arab nations had chosen to normalise ties with Israel, it was “solely logical for Hamas to facet with those that select resistance towards the Zionist enemy”.

In 2020, 4 Arab nations – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco – normalised relations with Israel in United States-brokered offers that elicited combined world reactions.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Damascus, Syria in 2010 [File: SANA via Reuters]

Restoring ‘axis of resistance’

In separate speeches final week, each Tehran and its regional ally, Hezbollah, praised Hamas’s resolution, with Hezbollah’s secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, saying that Syria and its management would stay “the true help of the Palestinian individuals”.

In the meantime, Iran’s International Minister Nasser Kanani mentioned in a information convention on September 19 that the transfer was within the pursuits of the Palestinian individuals, because it helped strengthen their place towards Israel.

“Iran encourages and helps this development and believes convergence between resistance factions will help strengthen peace, stability and safety within the area,” mentioned Kanani.

In accordance with Somdeep Sen, affiliate professor in Worldwide Improvement Research at Roskilde College, the Hamas transfer has not solely restored ties with Damascus but additionally labored to revive “the axis of resistance” which incorporates Iran and Hezbollah.

“As Turkey and lots of Arab nations restore their ties with Israel, the Palestinian faction has few choices left by way of allies within the area,” added Sen, who focuses on settler colonialism in Palestine.

Final week, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, within the first face-to-face talks between the 2 nations’ leaders since 2008 as tensions between them start to thaw.

Palestinian protesters
Palestinian protesters react throughout an illustration by the border fence with Israel, east of Gaza Metropolis, to denounce the Israeli siege of the Palestinian strip [File: Said Khatib/AFP]

Syria analyst Karam Shaar agreed that with Hamas’s political isolation within the area, the motion has been pushed to stay near Iran.

“Hamas moved to normalise relations with Syria below stress from Iran, which is making its help to Hamas contingent with restoring ties with Assad,” mentioned Shaar.

“This [move] will due to this fact improve Iran’s help for Hamas, because it realigns the motion below Iran’s wing,” he added.

However whereas Hamas cosies as much as Iran and its allies, the Palestinian group could also be risking its ties with a key supporter over the previous decade – Qatar.

“Essentially the most intriguing dynamic at play would appear to be Hamas’s relationship with Qatar, which stays the regional authorities most decided to proceed to withstand any normalisation of Assad’s regime,” Lister informed Al Jazeera. “Time will inform if Doha can proceed to sq. these two contradictory circles.”

Not solely did Doha soak up Hamas leaders after they left Damascus, but it surely additionally offered thousands and thousands of {dollars} in monetary help to the Gaza Strip since 2012.

This help has made Hamas more and more reliant on Qatar to keep up its building of properties, the schooling system and a gradual provide of gasoline to the besieged coastal enclave which has seen a number of wars with Israel since 2005.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi meets with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Tehran
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi meets al-Assad in Tehran, Iran, Could 8, 2022 [File: Official Presidential website via Reuters]

Public notion

Away from the political realm, the transfer has alienated the Syrian opposition and its supporters, who blame al-Assad for the demise of tens of 1000’s of civilians and the displacement of a whole bunch of 1000’s extra.

As many Syrians and different Arabs voiced their condemnation of the transfer over social media, Hamas’s restoration of ties with Damascus will have an effect on its popularity, say analysts.

“With public notion within the area being extraordinarily important of the transfer, the organisation is sure to lose help within the wider Arab world,” mentioned Sen.

“The transfer is unfortunately emblematic of the widespread regional fatigue with Syria’s disaster and a want – albeit an illogical one – to ‘transfer on’ and fake Syria’s disaster by no means occurred and now not exists,” added Lister.

A Syrian younger woman runs subsequent to a wall in a refugee camp for displaced individuals run by the Turkish Crimson Crescent in Sarmada district, north of Idlib metropolis, Syria [File: Francisco Seco/AP Photo]


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