Hamas leaders may relocate from Qatar to Baghdad – report

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hamas leaders may be planning to leave Qatar for Iraq, as the terror group comes under increasing pressure from Doha and Washington to accept a ceasefire deal and release the hostages it’s holding in Gaza, according to an Emirati report.

The Iraqi government reportedly approved the move last month. The terror group’s leaders, staff and premises in the capital Baghdad would be under Iranian protection, according to sources quoted by The National.

Other Arab media outlets recently reported that Iran and Iraq were discussing opening a Hamas media and PR office in the Iraqi capital. The National claims that Hamas already opened a political office in Baghdad earlier this month.

Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh is said to have met with representatives from the Iraqi and Iranian governments last month, according to a senior Iraqi MP with close ties to an Iran-backed militia who spoke with The National. However, Iraqi Kurds and some Sunnis are said to be opposed to the move, fearing that it will create tensions with the US, the source says. Sunnis are a minority group in Shia-majority Iraq.

Hamas plans to retain a representation in Doha to oversee relations with Qatar, another source tells The National.

The Iraqi government does not respond to requests for comment by the UAE paper. However, Hamas politburo member Izzat al-Rishq says on his Telegram channel that the report is “baseless.”

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