Hamas announced last week that it was “resuming” its relations with Iran after the Palestinian movement’s position on the Syrian Civil War caused it to fall out with the Assad regime’s main backers.
The announcement was made by senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar in Gaza following talks between Hamas officials and Iranian diplomats in Beirut last month.
Mr Al-Zahar said that Hamas’s ties with Iran had been “affected by the Syria situation, and Hamas has withdrawn from Syria so that it can’t be identified with this or that side”.
Three years ago, Hamas’s political headquarters were in Damascus and it received a large portion of its financial and military assistance from Tehran.
Following the Syrian regime’s bloody repression of the rebels — who identify with Hamas’s parent organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, in large numbers — the Damascus offices were closed down and ties with Iran rapidly deteriorated.
The Iranian regime transferred the bulk of its support to Hamas’s rivals, Islamic Jihad.
Hamas’s rapprochement with Iran reflects its increasing isolation in the region, with the rise of Salafist Al-Qaeda-affiliated elements both within the Syrian rebel movement and in Gaza and Sinai. Hamas is hostile to the Salafists and has lost the support of Egypt due to the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo.
Gaza is increasingly under siege as the Egyptian Army has destroyed most of the smuggling tunnels from Sinai and Hamas has little choice but to seek support once again from Iran.