Iran said to postpone Hamas chief’s visit
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Iran said to postpone Hamas chief’s visit

Islamist movement official says Tehran’s rapprochement with the West, engagement with Syria behind the delay

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal sits next to former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a conference in Tehran, February 2010 (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)
Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal sits next to former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a conference in Tehran, February 2010 (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)

Iran has postponed the planned visit of Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal to an unknown date, a London-based Arab daily reported on Thursday.

Quoting an unnamed source in Hamas, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that the visit was not canceled but merely pushed off to a later date due to the “preoccupation of Iranian officials in other matters.”

Hamas has been at pains to renew its alliance with the Islamic Republic; that alliance has suffered from the decision of the Hamas political leadership in early 2012 to sever ties with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Hamas’s gambit of allying itself with the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt collapsed with the ouster of president Mohammed Morsi in early July.

Last week, Mashaal’s deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, admitted in an interview with Lebanese TV station Al-Mayadeen that Iran had slashed funding for Hamas following the movement’s departure from Syria. Abu Marzouk said the decision to chill relations was very much an Iranian one, while Hamas continued to seek avenues of cooperation.

Hamas official Ahmad Youssef told Lebanon’s Asian Society Information Agency on Tuesday that a Hamas delegation had secretly traveled to Iran in a bid to appease the regime there. Mashaal, he said, was meant to visit Iran as well, but did not do so due to Iran’s preoccupation with Syria and its effort to improve relations with the West.

“Hamas and its political leader can wait a while until Iran [improves its] relations with the US and Europe, and the visit will take place subsequently,” Youssef said.

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