Iran penalized Hamas for leaving its headquarters in Syria last year by slashing funding for the movement, a senior Hamas official said this week, adding that Hezbollah showed more understanding of Hamas’s position than Tehran did.
In a lengthy interview with Lebanese TV station Al-Mayadeen, Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, spoke candidly of Hamas’s faltering relations with its Arab neighbors following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi in early July. He also addressed the chilly ties with Syria and its ally Iran following the Islamic movement’s decision to abandon its Damascus headquarters in January 2012.
“Iran used to be the most supportive state to Hamas in all aspects: money, arms and training. We don’t deny this,” Abu Marzouk said. “Our position on Syria affected relations with Iran. Its support for us never stopped, but the amounts [of money] were significantly reduced.”
A Lebanese daily, A-Safeer, reported in late September that Iran resumed its financial support for Hamas — which it said had stopped entirely — following Morsi’s ouster. Abu Marzouk’s statements seemed to contradict the daily’s claims of significant improvement in ties between Hamas and Iran, as well as the supposed freezing of funds which preceeded it.
In the interview, Abu Marzouk stressed that the alienation from Iran was very much an Iranian decision, not one initiated by Hamas.
“We never for a moment considered withdrawing from our ties with Iran. On the contrary, we wanted to maintain ties which are in our best interest as well as Iran’s,” he said.
Hamas always strove to avoid sectarian infighting between Muslims, which hampers the struggle against Israel, he added.
“We want all the rifles to be pointed at Israel,” he said.
Unlike Iran, Lebanese movement Hezbollah completely understood Hamas’s motivation for leaving Syria, Abu Marzouk said.
“Sayid Hassan [Nasrallah] told me this directly: ‘We understand your position.’”
Hamas’s only reservation regarding Hezbollah emerged when the Shiite movement joined Assad forces in battle against rebels in the border city of Qusair in June. At that time, Hamas decided to issue a one-time statement of condemnation against Hezbollah, Abu Marzouk said.
However, “there was never any real disagreement or crisis with Hezbollah.”