After expelling Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar holds onto Hamas

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Hamas leader Mushir al-Masri speaks during as Hamas militants and hundreds of Palestinian take part in rally commemorating those killed during seven-week war with Israel, Gaza City on September 26, 2014. (Photo: Anadolou-Mustafa Hassona)

By: Hani Ibrahim

Published Saturday, September 27, 2014

To know the position of a household on any given topic: ask the homeowners, not the guests. In all cases, Hamas will only speak fondly of the hospitality it received in Doha. The Palestinian faction is confident that it will not meet the same fate as the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Qatar is keen on giving it more reassurances.

Gaza – The leadership of Palestinian group Hamas are still residing in Doha; for the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region, this confirms that the Qatari decision to expel Egyptian Brotherhood figures will not be applied to Hamas, an offshoot of the Brotherhood.

Fear over Qatar taking a similar step against Hamas grew as the expulsion of the Muslim Brotherhood officials coincided with Hamas political bureau chairman, Khaled Meshaal’s visit to Tunisia.

In politics, nothing is permanent and different phases require different measures, a Qatari official said, acknowledging that it will certainly be difficult to ask Hamas to leave Doha at the moment.

The official at the Qatari foreign ministry, who wished to remain anonymous, pointed out to the close ties between Hamas and Doha, which date to 1999, after “Hamas left Jordan.” Speaking to Al-Akhbar, he explained that his country’s support of Hamas is based on “a political and moral conviction and it does not come in response to a certain political position, especially because this group (Hamas) represents a national liberation movement.”

The source went as far as indicating that Hamas and Qatar have already reached policy agreements concerning “the continuous developments on the Palestinian and regional levels.”

As the Arab world continues to witness dramatic developments, the official asserted that Qatar’s relationship with the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood will not be influenced by the political situation in the region, because “Hamas distanced itself from the repercussions of this situation, despite all the attempts to drag it into this hell.”

Commenting on the repercussions of hosting Hamas’ leadership on Qatar’s relationships with other Palestinian factions, the official stressed that Doha “stands at an equal distance from all Palestinian parties, but we have a special interest in Hamas, especially since the faction opened a political office here after leaving Damascus.”

Asked if the relationship with Hamas would impact any possible Gulf reconciliation, the official said “every observer of Hamas’ foreign policy is aware that it never wronged any regime in the region, and it does not have any problems with these regimes, unlike the position against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.”

The official also stressed that Qatar was never asked to abandon Hamas “during the attempts to mend the fences with the Gulf Cooperation Council.”

For their part, Hamas’ officials were quick to issue press releases praising the “strong relationship” with Doha, and denying the allegations that Meshaal’s visit to Tunisia was aimed to find a new host country.

Deputy Chairman of Hamas political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk said, “the Qatari decision to expel seven Muslim Brotherhood members will not be applied to Hamas’ leaders,” while Hamas’ spokesman, Houssam Badran, currently in Doha, stressed that his party’s relationship with Qatar is strong and deeply rooted, explaining that Meshaal’s visit to Tunisia “was planned beforehand and aimed to gather support for Gaza.”

Anwar al-Ghirbi, international affairs advisor for the Tunisian president, also refuted claims about talks to move Hamas’ leadership to Tunisia, stressing that Meshaal’s visit was part of his efforts to follow up on the Palestinian issue after the war on Gaza.

In his analysis, author Adnan Abu Amer, a political researcher close to Hamas suggested that Qatar is keen on maintaining its relationship with Hamas, and wishes to keep hosting the Palestinian faction in order to reinforce its role in the region.

Abu Amer, however, highlighted in one of his articles that “Hamas’ stay in Doha and its strong relationship with the country, would not keep it from acknowledging that Doha is being pressured by regional and international capitals which view Hamas as an enemy.”

Along with a number of other analysts, Abu Amer seeks to confirm that if Qatar is to expel Hamas, the latter would understand the Qatari decision, regardless of its circumstances, because the faction “will never forget that Qatar stood by its side under these difficult regional conditions, and that there will always be other alternatives.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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