Israeli media has been reporting that a high-level Hamas delegation, including the group’s political leader, has visited Saudi Arabia where they met with the new Saudi King as well as other officials. According to the Times of Israel report, the visit represents an “overt rapprochement” between the Kingdom and Hamas:
July 21, 2105 After years of alignment with Shiite Iran and its Arab allies, the Palestinian Hamas group is bidding for Sunni patronage from Saudi Arabia in a dramatic shift to its geostrategic orientation.
A high-level Hamas delegation headed by the group’s politburo chief, Khaled Mashaal, visited Riyadh last Friday to meet with King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, and a host of Saudi officials. The makeup of Hamas’s team was noteworthy, as it included Mashaal’s deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, and Saleh al-Arouri, the movement’s Turkey-based official suspected of guiding recently exposed terror cells in the West Bank, as well as the abduction-killing of three Israeli teenagers last summer. Arab media rushed to note that it was the first such meeting in over three years.
The Hamas daily al-Resalah cleared some of the fog surrounding the visit on Sunday, reporting that Saudi King Salman had requested that Hamas and Fatah empower him to replace Egypt as mediator in the reconciliation efforts between the two groups. Mashaal, the report said, came to Riyadh carrying a written ‘letter of empowerment’ for Salman, while Fatah leader and PA President Mahmoud Abbas refused to do so.
The sudden, overt rapprochement between revolutionary Hamas and conservative Saudi Arabia — both followers of Sunni Islam — is unsurprising given the gradual decline in Hamas’s relations with Iran in recent years. It is not just money that Hamas is after (although given its financial pitfalls, some cash certainly couldn’t hurt), but more importantly, a new patron in a region increasingly defined by its sectarian divides.”
Read the rest here.
The GMBDW has been warning since March 2014 that the Saudi Arabia’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization was likely not what it seemed at first and that the Kingdom has been continuing its outreach and support of the Global Muslim Brotherhood. This seeming reconciliation only confirms the validity of those warnings since it is no secret that Hamas is essentially the Palestinian branch of the Global Muslim Brotherhood. (We believe that the GMBDW is able to more accurately analyze such developments since unlike most academics, and almost all political scientists, we follow what the Brotherhood networks are actually doing as opposed to constructing fanciful theories about what they are doing.).
However, the GMBDW takes issue with the article headline, that the seeming reconciliation between Hamas and Saudi Arabia is a “slap to Iran.” As we reported only two weeks ago, senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah had met with officials from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps for an iftar meal [breaking of the Ramadan fast]in Beirut. It appears to us that Hamas is simply returning to its pre- “Arab Spring” ability to maintain strong relationships with both sides, illustrating that religious differences tell us nothing about the willingness to support those fighting what is perceived to be an “enemy of Islam.” (This very topic will be at the center of a soon-to-be-published Global Muslim Brotherhood Research Center Report.)
For more information on Moussa Abu Marzouk, go here.
For more information on Saleh al-Arouri, go here.