Doha’s Attempts to Distance Hamas from Tehran

28 October 2012 | 16:12 Code : 1908450 Review General category
An essay by Ali Jannati, Iran’s former ambassador to Kuwait
Doha’s Attempts to Distance Hamas from Tehran


The visit by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and his wife to the Gaza Strip has given rise to many questions among political analysts. He is the first Arab leader, since 1967, to visit Palestine's occupied territories. Even Hosni Mubarak, the deposed president of Egypt, and King Abdullah II, Jordan's King, who have had close official relations with the Zionist regime, have never entered the Gaza Strip. Obviously, this trip would not have been made possible without the agreement of the Zionist regime and friendly cooperation of the Egyptian government, for the Gaza Strip is still under the occupation of and surrounded by the Zionist regime, and the Emir of Qatar has entered this region through the Sinai Desert and Rafah border crossing. This is while one of the high-ranking Egyptian officials also accompanied him. The record of unofficial relations between the government of Qatar and Israel is very clear. This regime's representative office in Doha was even active during the 22 days' war of the Zionist regime against Palestine in 2008, and also during the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's Summit in Doha, and it still continues its activities. This is while the government of Qatar has established close relations with the Hamas movement.

Cars with Qatari license plates have, many times, been seen in the occupied territories of Palestine, especially the occupied lands of 1948. This, by itself, shows the double standard and hypocritical role of the government of Qatar in supporting the Palestinian movement. Sheikh Hamad, the Emir of Qatar, has been welcomed by the leaders of the Hamas movement and the people of the Gaza Strip in this one-day visit. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, welcomed him with a red carpet and with an official ceremony, as is usually done for heads of state. Despite Hamas’ vast programs for the Emir of Qatar to meet people in Gaza’s main sports stadium and to visit different places in the Gaza Strip, these programs were cancelled due to a "lack of time". Sheikh Hamad only made a speech at the Islamic University of Gaza and visited the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani housing project in the Khan Younis region. In this trip, the Emir of Qatar allocated 400 million dollars for construction projects in Gaza, 254 million dollars of which will be used for construction of the south-north highway of Gaza and other infrastructures, 62 million dollars for the housing project and 15 million dollars for building a hospital. The following points can be mentioned as the objectives of the Emir of Qatar's visit:

1. Expansion of Qatar's influence in the Palestinian scene

Considering the ambitions of the government of Qatar and this country's continuous efforts to play a leadership role in the Middle East and northern Africa, using its huge wealth and oil income and the Al-Jazeera media network, it is totally obvious that one of the objectives of this visit is to strengthen its influence among the Palestinians, competing with Saudi Arabia and introducing itself as a supporter of the Palestinians in the Arab world and the world of Islam. The record of interference of the government of Qatar in several Arab countries, including Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania, and its open financial and armament support of the opponents of the Bashar Assad government in Syria are all indicative of this country's efforts to play a role beyond the small government of the Persian Gulf and its invitation of Palestinian leaders for national reconciliation and his visit are aimed towards the same goal.

2. Preventing Palestinians from armed resistance

Its close relationship with the Zionist regime and coordination of the Emir of Qatar's visit of Gaza with that regime indicates that the government of Qatar, through returning the people of Gaza to their normal lives and reconstructing the destruction caused by war, attempts to convince them to accept the Zionist regime as a reality and put aside armed resistance against the Zionist occupiers, so that they can have a calm and peaceful life alongside Israel, as the government of Qatar supports the Palestinian Authority, which has officially recognized Israel. The efforts made by the government of Qatar to overthrow Bashar Assad and the government of Syria, which has stood against the Zionist regime during the past several decades and supported Lebanon's and Palestine's resistance, are also based on the same viewpoints. On the other hand, the agreement of the Egyptian president to dispatch construction materials, through the Sinai Desert, for Gaza's reconstruction, under conditions where that country has agreed with the establishment of a free zone between Gaza and Egypt and blocked the underground tunnels between the Sinai Desert and the Gaza Strip, is an issue worth thinking about.

3. Separating Gaza from the West Bank

The Emir of Qatar's visit to the Gaza Strip has intensified the issue of separation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and is along the same lines as the objectives of the Zionist regime to prevent the unity of Palestinians, inflaming the crisis of mistrust between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and intensifying the differences between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. The majority of the Palestinian groups residing in the West Bank and Syria have strongly criticized this visit and considered it as part of Israel's sinister objectives. The Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, of which Ismail Haniyeh was once Prime Minister, are considered by the international community as the only legal representatives of the people of Palestine and Israel has repeatedly attempted to break the unity and solidarity of the Palestinians. Obviously, the official visit to the Gaza Strip and the recognition of the Hamas movement by the government of Qatar, as the government of Gaza, means damage to the Palestine Liberation Organization; hence, despite phone conversations between the Emir of Qatar and Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, and his invitation to accompany him on the Gaza trip, Mahmoud Abbas and all Palestinian officials in the West Bank have expressed their dissatisfaction with regard to this visit.

4. Distancing the Hamas Movement from Iran

Considering the close and friendly relations between Hamas and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and this movement's enjoyment of Iran's financial and arms support, which has angered the Zionist regime and some compromising Arab leaders, it can be said that one of the main goals of this visit is to distance the leaders of the Hamas movement from the Islamic Republic of Iran, just as the government of Qatar tried in the past to encourage the Hamas movement to close its offices in Damascus and leave Syria by promising to give one billion dollars for the reconstruction of Gaza. Even today, considering the policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran based on support for the armed resistance of the Palestinians against the Zionist regime, giving such incentives can, naturally, distance the Hamas movement from the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

5. Humanitarian gesture

Allocating 400 million dollars for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, under conditions where none of the rich Arab countries has acted upon its commitments in this regard, can strengthen the reputation of the government of Qatar. It should be noted that, following the 22 days war and destruction caused by the attacks of the Zionist regime, the heads of the Arab League, in the Sharm el-Sheikh summit in 2009, committed themselves to the sum of 4.5 million dollars for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, a small amount of which was paid by Kuwait and some other Persian Gulf countries, and practically none of the Arab states fulfilled its commitment. Therefore, with this humanitarian gesture, the government of Qatar can raise its reputation in the Arab world, just as naming the housing project in the south of Gaza after Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani is aimed at gaining popularity among the residents of Gaza. This financial aid is also an incentive for the leaders of the Hamas movement to leave Syria by condemning the regime of Bashar Assad.

Although Ismail Haniyeh and other leaders of the Hamas movement have considered this visit in line with breaking the blockade of Gaza, when we consider the US and the Zionist regime's agreement with this visit, this trip cannot be considered in line with the national interests of the people of Palestine. The protest of some Israeli officials against the financial aid of the government of Qatar is also aimed at covering the main goals of this visit.

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