On Sunday, the media reported about a leaked telephone call in which senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk purportedly accused Iran of lying. This was closer to a statement than a leaked phone call. Hamas said that prominent security apparatuses, such as those in Israel, were behind publishing of the leaked phone call.
However, after listening to it one realizes that there’s nothing secret about it, as it neither reveals names nor numbers. It simply conveys a critical opinion about Iran; an opinion which Abu Marzouk himself had previously voiced in the glare of the media. No one paid attention to it then.
In this leaked phone call, Abu Marzouk says his Gaza-based group had not received any support from Iran since 2009. If this is true, then why has Hamas continued to support Iran for six years? Even the Lebanese Hezbollah group would have stopped supporting Iran if it its annual support was cut. What do you think an organization which describes itself religious Sunni do?
It is due to its alliance with the Syrian and Iranian regimes that Hamas has feuded with the Palestinian Authority and most Gulf countries for years. Hamas supported Iran in every cause, and supported it in Syria since the beginning of the conflict there. However after religious groups condemned its position, it declared its commitment to being neutral towards Iran and Hezbollah in Syria and their continuous targeting of the Syrian people as well as the Palestinians in the Yarmuk refugee camp.
Abu Marzouk did not lie when he accused Iran of secrecy. However, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood movement, to which it belongs, are more secretive than Iran as they intend more than they declare. The “secret leaked” phone call is a mere bait for the media and should be seen in the context of a campaign run by Hamas and its journalists. This campaign is directed at Gulf capitals for the purpose of pressuring them to alter their position and fund Hamas.
Hamas’ foreign political stances are no longer significant to the Gulf or the Syrians or the YemenisAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Two weeks ago, another leak was reported which Hamas described as “private information”. This tape purported its ambassador in Tehran saying that Iran requested Hamas to adopt a stance against Saudi Arabia. It added that Hamas’ political bureau rejected this request.
This “leaked information” said Iran cut support to Hamas due to its stance in Syria. It seems that campaign organizers do not read their previous statements as Abu Marzouk said in the “leaked” phone call that Iran cut support in 2009 while the political bureau said it cut support in 2012 due to the party’s stance on Syria!
What’s certain is that Hamas is in a huge financial crisis but this is not because Iran has stopped sending money. It’s due to the Egyptian army’s destruction of hundreds of tunnels, its huge financial resource for many years, which has obstructed economic activity. The Egyptian authority says these measures are in response to Hamas’ support of armed groups in Sinai and solidarity with the banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
‘Hamas against Houthis’
In a stance characterized by hidden meaning, Hamas said it has taken a public position against the Houthis. However, its sole statement on Yemeni developments can be interpreted in many ways. Some may ask what is required from Hamas. Is it cutting ties with Iran and Hezbollah?
I think it’s difficult to believe even if Hamas says it has cut its ties with them. The statements of Hamas and its sub-organizations, such as Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, are not constant. Needless to add, Hamas’ position on Tehran is no longer important because the majority of Arab public opinion is opposed to Iran, the Assad regime and Hezbollah.
This trio has used Hamas in the past to serve its own purposes. Syria hired Hamas for 20 years to balance its relations with Israel and weaken the Palestinian Authority, which has been at odds with the Assad regime ever since the days of Yasser Arafat. Iran has used Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north to put pressure on Israel and reach its goals while negotiating with the West. It has finally achieved its objectives. Basically, Hamas has played the role of the Trojan horse well for the Iranians.
Now whether Iran abandoned Hamas for a political reason or because oil prices no longer make this feasible, the important thing is not Iran but that this issue is uniting the Palestinians, and ending this divide, which happened because of Hamas. It is in no one’s interest in the Arab world, particularly within Palestine, to have two conflicting Palestinian republics.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has extended his hand more than once and has offered concessions to end this estrangement. However, Hamas, due to its connection with the Palestinian Authority’s rivals, has rejected these efforts.
The scene now has changed a lot. If Hamas’ aim from public relations perspective is to reconcile with Gulf countries by convincing them that it has changed, and that it’s now against Iran and Assad, and that it now appreciates Saudi Arabia, then it might as well reconcile with other Palestinian factions before seeking to reconcile with Gulf countries.
It should go back to discussing the affair with the authority in Ramallah and thereby forge unity. This is more important than taking verbal positions as Hamas’ foreign political stances are no longer significant to the Gulf or the Syrians or the Yemenis.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 01, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.