Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, Originally posted in Arabic on January 15
A secret proposal was leaked this week, exposing an Iranian attempt to cajole Hamas into standing up against Saudi Arabia, in return for significant financial support to the Gaza-based organization. Hamas responded to the offer this week and rejected it, claiming that it does not serve the interests of the organization.
According to several Hamas officials, the proposal was rejected by none other than Khaled Meshaal, the head of the movement’s political bureau, who claimed that it would be “unwise” to intervene in the dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It should be noted that the Iranian assistance to Hamas was terminated over a year ago due to the latter’s adverse stance on Teheran’s involvement the Syrian war.
There is no doubt that Hamas’ leadership understands the implications of its most recent decision. Hamas personnel have been banned from entering or residing in Iran and Syria, and have lost a significant funding channel that came from Teheran. Following this rejection, Iran will likely try and punish Hamas even further.
However, most of the organization’s strategic interests are currently located in Sunni states: its leadership is located in the Gulf, its key officials reside in Turkey, and its land borders depend on Egypt. Choosing to take Iran’s side in this dispute will have likely complicated all of these factors, isolating the movement from its key partners.
Hamas’ leadership has to tread the fine line between the need for outside assistance, and the fear of upsetting its regional allies. Just last month it called for a rapprochement of its relations with Iran, in a letter of condolences sent to Nasrallah following Samir Kuntar’s assassination. Now it seems to be taking a step back, with a more cautious stance on Iran’s offer. – Kafah Zabun