With a deterioration of ties between Hamas and Iran, the terror organization has been cultivating ties with Saudi Arabia.
By: Lauren Calin, World Israel News
Iran cancelled a planned visit by a Hamas delegation in retaliation for Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s decision to visit Iran’s rival, Saudi Arabia. The purpose of Mashaal’s trip appears to have been to build Saudi ties in light of Iran’s inconsistency in providing funding to the terrorist organization. Hamas insists that its relationship with Iran is stable.
An unnamed senior official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) contacted Hamas to express disapproval of the Saudi trip, sources told the Arabic edition of the Huffington Post. Hamas’s relationship with the Islamic Republic has been complicated by the war in Syria, with Iran supporting the Alawite-dominated Assad regime and Hamas supporting the predominantly Sunni rebels. Iran had cut off funding to Hamas, reinstating it after Operation Protective Edge. Two weeks ago, the deputy head of the Hamas politburo, Mousa Abu Marzouk, said that aid from Iran has basically stopped.
In response, Hamas has been cultivating ties with Saudi Arabia, including a visit by Khaled Mashaal to the Kingdom last month, during which he met with King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “We sensed that there is a readiness in Saudi Arabia to support the Palestinian cause,” senior Hamas official Salah Bardawl told Ma’an News Agency.
At the same time, the Palestinian Authority is looking to take advantage of the Hamas-Iran split in order to foster its own ties with the Islamic Republic. A senior PA official, Ahmad Majdalani, traveled to Tehran to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Hamas, meanwhile, is downplaying the deterioration of ties with Iran. In a press conference, Khalil Hayyeh said that Hamas maintains good relations with Iran and expressed hope that Tehran will continue to provide support.