February 10, 2012

KNOWING YOUR ALLIES:

Hamas drifting away from longtime patron Iran  (AP, 2/10/12)

Hamas appears to be drifting away from its longtime patron Iran -- part of a shift that began with last year's Arab Spring and accelerated over Tehran's backing of the pariah regime in Syria.

The movement's top leader in exile, Khaled Mishal, wants Hamas to be part of the broader Islamist political rise triggered by the popular uprisings sweeping across the Arab world. For this, Hamas needs new friends like the wealthy Gulf states that are at odds with Iran. [...]

Hamas has reduced its presence in Iran-allied Damascus in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad's brutal crackdown on a popular uprising against him. Hamas also rejected Iran's demand that the group publicly side with Assad, standing firm even when Tehran delayed the monthly support payments Hamas needs to govern the Gaza Strip, according to a senior Hamas official who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.

At the same time, Hamas is increasingly relying on political and financial support from the Gulf, particularly tiny Qatar, which also has close ties to the West.

This week, Qatar brokered a breakthrough unity deal between Mishal and his longtime rival, internationally backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. After five years of separate Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza, Abbas is now to head an interim unity government and lead the Palestinians to elections.
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Posted by at February 10, 2012 6:52 AM
  

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