News from the Arab Press

Hamas Should Restore Ties With Iran

By Asaf Zilberfarb | The Media Line

December 4, 2018

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Al-Quds al-Arabi, London, November 28

The relationship between Hamas and Iran has been widely debated, especially in recent years when ties between the two sides deteriorated due to the conflict in Syria and Hamas’ ambiguous stance on the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The question of this relationship comes up from time to time, but Hamas refuses to clearly spell out its position on the Syrian civil war, leaving it in a neutral area somewhere between heaven and hell. Neither Iran’s friends nor its opponents are satisfied with Hamas’ vague stance. In the current regional circumstances there is no longer any justification for the hesitant position on Iran. It is in Hamas’ interests to restore relations with Iran and to admit that the position taken in 2012 by some of its leaders on Syria was a political mistake. Hamas should have removed itself from the debate surrounding the Syrian conflict since it has nothing to do with the Palestinian cause. The relationship between Hamas and Iran today must be based on the following rules and premises: First, Hamas is a Palestinian organization operating under occupation, not an Arab state. It has nothing to do with the conflicts taking place in the region, nor with internal revolutions. Thus, it is not required to adopt a formal position on each and every conflict or crisis in the region. Second, Iran is an integral part of this region, and should be viewed as an important strategic player in the Middle East. The Palestinians or the Hamas movement have nothing to do with the conflict between Tehran and some Arab states, and should thus not join calls to boycott Tehran. Third, if Iran remains loyal to the Palestinian cause and does not rush to normalize its ties with Tel Aviv – as so many Arabs regimes have done so far – it is an important ally to protect. Finally, the claims of Shiism and fears of the spread of the Shiite doctrine in the Middle East, which is used to justify hostility toward Iran, is nothing but nonsense. Shiites already exist throughout all corners of the Arab world, with or without Iran’s influence. The bottom line is that relations between Hamas and any country in the world, including Iran, must not be governed by other crises. Iran is a powerful actor in the region and it may be in Hamas’ best interest to ally with it. –Muhammad Ayesh

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