A senior United Arab Emirates government official appeared to lash out at Hamas over a statement it issued earlier this week, in which it expressed sympathy with the Iranian government in the wake of new American punitive measures against Tehran.
“Hamas’s solidarity with the Iranian government does not take into consideration the Gulf and Arab anxiety over Tehran’s regional interference,” Anwar Gargash, UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, tweeted Tuesday evening. “It is unnecessary. It pushes the Palestinian issue into a maze and confirms the opinion that the movement, in its orientation, is nothing more than an Iranian regional tool.”
In a statement on Monday, Hamas condemned Washngton’s reimposition of sanctions against Iran, which it said seek “to destabilize security and stability in the region…and strengthen the Zionist project,” and affirmed its “solidarity with Iran’s government and people.”
The sanctions reimposed by US President Donald Trump’s administration had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, and came back into effect on Monday after he pulled out of the international agreement — signed by Iran, the US and five other powers — in May.
Senior Arab government officials seldom issue public criticism of Hamas.
Iran is believed to be a major sponsor of Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which, in the last ten years, has fired thousands of rockets at Israel.
In the past 18 months, top Hamas officials have made several visits to Tehran and met senior members of the Iranian government.
After a Hamas delegation visited Tehran in October 2017 and met top Iranian officials there, deputy Hamas political chief Saleh al-Arouri said the Islamic Republic had pledged to continue its support for Palestinian armed groups.
“The main result [of our meetings] is the continuation of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]’s commitment toward Palestine and the resistance in Palestine,” Arouri said in an interview with Iran’s al-Alam TV at the time. “We hope this support will continue and grow until the resistance will be able to defeat the occupation.”
Iran is also thought to be a major backer of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.
The UAE, alongside a number of other Arab and Gulf states, vehemently opposes Iran and its support for armed groups throughout the Middle East.