Hamas has rekindled ties with Iran after a temporary deterioration of their relations due to differences over the situation in Syria, a senior official from the organization said Monday.
“Relations between Hamas and Iran have resumed,” Mahmoud al-Zahar, a former foreign minister, told reporters at a news conference in Gaza, according to AFP news agency.
The relationship had been “affected by the Syria situation and Hamas has withdrawn from Syria so that it can’t be identified with this or that side,” he said, adding that Hamas has “confirmed we are not interfering in the Syrian case, or in any other Arab country.”
After the popular uprising against Bashar Assad erupted in March 2011, Hamas, a Sunni Islamic movement, quickly felt the reverberations.
At the time, Hamas leaders in exile were based in Damascus, but became increasingly uncomfortable with Assad’s crackdown on Syria’s majority Sunnis. Assad and key members of his regime are Alawites, or followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Assad, a longtime Hamas patron, demanded that the group show support for his regime, but Mashaal publicly supported the protesters and moved the Hamas headquarters from Damascus to Qatar in early 2012.
Iran reportedly cut crucial financial assistance to Hamas, but Zahar said the two maintained a relationship.
“Our relations with Iran were not cut, and we don’t wish to cut ties with any Arab countries either, even those that are fighting against us,” he said, referring to Egypt.
Hamas had strong ties with Egypt while ousted president Mohammed Morsi was in power, but since the military took over in a popularly backed coup in July, it effectively isolated the Gaza Strip as part of its offensive against militant elements in the Sinai Peninsula, frequently closing the Rafah border crossing and destroying smuggling tunnels that had been instrumental in bringing goods to the coastal enclave.
While Egypt still supplies the Gaza Strip with materials such as fuel, “there is no political contact, because the current [Egyptian] regime is against it,” Zahar said.