Hamas Politburo on the Road Again
By: Qassem Qassem
Published Friday, September 27, 2013
Since Hamas decided to move its politburo from Syria to Qatar, its president Khaled Meshaal has been feeling like a prisoner, isolated from political developments in Palestine. The search for a new host country has begun, with Sudan as the most likely destination for the Islamist resistance movement.
Head of Hamas’ politburo in exile Khaled Meshaal cannot help but feel like a prisoner in his new headquarters in Qatar. But the local authorities who have surrounded the Palestinian leader with heavy security and restricted his movement say that the measures are for his own good, due to threats to his personal security.
Yet some other politburo members who have accompanied Meshaal to the Gulf emirate are complaining that the security measures are inadequate, prompting them to revive the idea of relocating to a place like Lebanon, Iran, or Sudan. Hamas sources say that Meshaal has expressed his willingness to consider another location that is better suited for the politburo’s activities.
From the outset, many in Hamas’ leadership were strongly opposed to the idea of relocating the politburo from Damascus to Doha, particularly as it represented a slap in the face to the movement’s former allies in the axis of resistance. Close observers point out that there was hardly a consensus within the top leadership on taking such a step, and that the decision was made by a minority who happened to be present at the meeting.
Most prominent among those who opposed the move were the Gaza cadre who know well the level of support and assistance Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria have provided the movement over the years. Inside sources reveal that tremendous pressure has been exerted on the Hamas leadership to distance itself from Hezbollah and to publicly denounce its intervention in Syria, which some in the Palestinian resistance have reluctantly obliged.
Qassam Brigades Object
Hamas’ military wing, known as Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, put up the most resistance to their party’s new realignment in the region. They know first-hand the amount of sacrifice and commitment Hezbollah in particular has shown to the Palestinian resistance. To this day, Qassam commanders continue to visit Beirut on their way to Iran, spending several days as guests of their counterparts in the Lebanese resistance.
For its part, Hezbollah seems reluctant to hold Hamas responsible for the actions of a few individuals, insisting that the decision by some in the movement to join the fight against the Syrian regime was a personal one, and not one officially taken by the leadership. Iran, too, has shown its willingness to mend fences with Hamas, particularly after Israel’s assault on Gaza in March 2012, which prompted Tehran to quickly replenish Qassam’s military supplies.
In Search of a Home
Before the toppling of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, Hamas and the Jordanian government had agreed to move the politburo to Amman. However, with the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Jordanian king had a change of heart, believing that this is the beginning of the collapse of the Brotherhood in the region as whole.
Other options that are geographically close to Palestine have been ruled out for various reasons. Egypt, for example, is currently out of the question given Cairo’s accusations that Hamas is meddling in the country’s internal affairs to lend support to the Muslim Brotherhood. A return to Syria is equally impossible, although some have suggested that Damascus is open to the idea but without Meshaal.
This leaves Khartoum as the best option for the time being. Hamas is not a stranger to Sudan, where the movement regularly gathers to hold politburo elections and conduct other party business, not to mention that Iran has established several weapons factories for Hamas in the country.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.