Iran and Hamas bury the hatchet

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 20, 2014

Hamas and Iran have officially patched up their differences after the Syrian Civil War caused the Palestinian organisation to cut ties with Tehran.

Khaled Mashal, Hamas’s political chief, is expected to visit Iran in the coming weeks and meet the country’s leadership.

Iran was Hamas’s main benefactor, supplying it with arms and money. According to some intelligence assessments, its support has been worth around $250m a year. The Islamist movement also received technical support and training for its cadres in Lebanon and Syria.

The rift between Hamas and Iran occurred three years ago following the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, in which many of the rebel groups fighting the Iran-backed Assad regime were aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s parent organisation.

As a result, Hamas closed its political bureau in Damascus. Iran then shifted much of its support away from Hamas and to the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad instead.

Hamas believed that, with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, it would be able to re-establish itself in Cairo, but the military takeover and arrest of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi ruined their plans. Egypt’s new government has branded Hamas a terror organisation, frozen its assets and acted decisively against the smuggling tunnels under the Sinai border.

Isolation, a massive budget deficit and a growing economic crisis in Gaza forced Hamas to swallow its pride and seek Iran’s patronage once again.

Last week, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, signalled in an interview with a Lebanese television channel that the estrangement was over. “Relations between Iran and Hamas have returned to be as they were before and we have no problem with Hamas,” he said. “Our Islamic duty is to support the resistance and that’s why we support them.”

Last updated: 4:45pm, March 20 2014