Will Hamas's shifts of allegiance from the Brotherhood to Iran change anything?

Many of Hamas’s political principles agree with the Muslim Brotherhood’s.
Tuesday 20/08/2019
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, meets Hamas deputy chief, Saleh al-Arouri, second right, and the Hamas delegation, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, July 22. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, meets Hamas deputy chief, Saleh al-Arouri, second right, and the Hamas delegation, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, July 22. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

The Palestinian movement Hamas is back in Iran's arms but this time its return rests on the condition that it renounces its association with the Muslim Brotherhood.

That condition was not overtly declared but was evident in the normalisation of relations with the Syrian regime. Hamas was, until recently, aligned with the activities of armed opposition groups in Syria, most of which belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Many of Hamas’s political principles agree with the Muslim Brotherhood’s. Suspicions about this relationship were clearly raised during the year during which the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi was president of Egypt.

Hamas continues to receive -- with Israel’s approval -- limited funding from Qatar. However, because of US laws sanctioning the financing of designated terrorist groups, Qatar faces problems in delivering funds to Hamas, prompting it to go through Israel, which only agreed to the bare minimum. This is unsatisfactory for Hamas’s leaders, who are looking to financially capitalise on their resistance. They, therefore, chose, out of financial distress, to veer towards the Iranian axis.

Hamas’s leaders know the rules of the game, a game that has become scandalously obvious. Their connection to the Iranian regime allows them to tug on their heartstrings despite knowing they will be craftily strung along by the regime in its never-ending puppet show. The Iranian regime does not care much about the opportunistic motives behind Hamas’s voluntary return to the Iranian fold. It is one thing to give lip service to principles and another to live up to them.

In these difficult times for Iran, Hamas can be useful and its leaders know that. Iran needs anyone who can stand with it at all costs. The exchange is straightforward and stops at the limits of mutual benefit. Of course, the comedy reaches the apex of hilarity when it comes to the common enemy, Israel.

Qatar will not object to the collapse of its sponsorship of Hamas but will lose a legitimate opportunity for direct contact with Israel. There is also the fact that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's photographs will replace those of Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid al-Thani's. However, Qatar’s irritation might be mitigated by the fact that the new sponsor is Iran. It is not unlikely that Hamas has coordinated with the Qataris regarding its opportunistic transformation. For everyone, things are still under control.

As far as Israel is concerned, and although Hamas is not a real threat, the radical Palestinian organisation's shift towards the Iranians and towards the Syrian regime might be an inconvenience. Hamas is an open book for Israel. Hamas is not Hezbollah and Gaza is not Lebanon.

Perhaps Israel is growing bored with destroying Gaza. So it might look for other solutions for its thorny relationship with Hamas, which could frighten Hamas’s leaders and deter them from embarking on a new adventure.

The situation on the Gaza front will be secure. That is what Iran can guarantee to Israel if the latter seeks to soften the US position towards Iran. Could Hamas then turn into a mediator between Iran and Israel? The Palestinians should expect that.

It is not really that important that Hamas is moving from the Brotherhood axis to the Iranian one. There is no difference between the two. What is important is that Hamas no longer prioritises the Palestinian national struggle as its goal. Everything it does is based on calculating profits and losses related to its investing the Palestinian cause in the region’s conflicts.

Hamas took the Gaza Strip hostage and auctioned it off in the geopolitical arena. It is pocketing aid from everywhere, not to improve living conditions in Gaza but to enrich its leaders.

For Israel, there will be no difference between an Iran-sponsored Hamas and a Qatar-sponsored Hamas except for what kind of intelligence it could provide. One day, we will find out that Hamas sold everybody’s secrets to Israel cheaply.