Hamas Relations with Qatar Regime – Which Way Forward

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Hadeel Mohammed Al Farra

PhD candidate and writer with interest on Refugees

When Hamas decided to leave Syria, in a historic decision as a result of the strained relations between them and the Syrian regime with the start of the Syrian revolution, Hamas faced geographical options that had not been put on its agenda in the past which is to go to Qatar. Hamas’s relationship with the State of Qatar dates back to years after the Israeli siege on Gaza Strip following its victory in the 2006 legislative elections. Qatar’s support for Hamas did not stop on the financial side provided in the form of grants, donations and field projects to compensate the cessation of Iranian support, but also worked on the regional depth provided by Doha to Hamas, as a “godfather” to it in local, regional and international forums. The visit of Qatar’s Emir to Gaza in October 2012 is proof of this and to be the first Arab or international leader to visit Gaza Strip since Hamas takeover, and that period witnessed a significant increase in the influence of Qatar in the region.

Going a little back in history, we will notice that Qatar has sought to create a place for itself to be innovative and influential in the region especially since Sheikh Hamad took over his father in 1995 who deliberately tried hard to consolidate ties with Washington, which became easier after Doha established friendly relations with Israel.  Also not long ago, in 2013, Sheikh Hamad relinquished the throne, leaving the office to his 33-year-old son, Sheikh Tamim. His move officially portrayed as a progressive act that contradicts the other Arab rulers in the Gulf region who usually remain in office until their death. Despite being a traditional Arab country with a ruling family, Qatar tried and is still trying to consider itself as a model of modernity. From its point of view, the Al-Saud in Saudi Arabia, the Al Khalifa in Bahrain, the Al Nahyan in the UAE, the previous regime of Mubarak in Egypt, and even the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas are all “old systems.” This belief led Qatar to support Arab uprisings and revolutions the so-called “Arab Spring revolutions,” which began in late 2010. Thus, Qatar began to support the political movements that are using Islam as a pretext to justify their actions and activities and to consider any voice to separate religion from politics as a secularist disbeliever, this is why the Al-Thani family has adopted the opposite view of most Arab countries. It has resisted and continues to resist anyone trying to separate religion from politics. Hence, it sees the agenda of Hamas, even the Afghan Taliban, and the Muslim Brotherhood as the path to move forward in the future in a way that serves her ambition in the region.

Many wonders about the secret of the substantial relationship between Hamas and the Qatari regime, how they can control the leaders of Hamas and the apparent growing role of Qatar. Hamas turned from a resistance movement against the Israeli Zionist movement to just an instrument in the hands of the Qatari system to achieve its dreams, which seeks to lead the Arab world and export the false picture that says, Qatar supports revolutions and resistance movements in the Arab world. The relationship between Hamas and Qatar is complicated, both are in need of the other; both are looking for a role in the region after the fall of masks and the clarity of truth for all. Hamas is looking for a headquarter, financial support, and political cover. On the other hand, Qatar is looking for the growth, maximizing its Arab role by presenting itself in the image of helping to solve Arab issues and problems, and even adopting a policy as an agent or a broker in the hands of any side as it helps them to achieve what they want. By this policy, Qatar is throwing everything and its future into the sea after being off track and away from the unified Arab goals based on stopping the Arab bleeding and conflicts to begin seriously in rebuilding the economic, political and social devastation of the wars during the latest years. Hamas committed suicide after being a resistance movement that had value and respect in confronting the Israeli occupation when it clung to its political interests above the Palestinian national goal based on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and resisting Israeli violations against the Palestinian people. Hamas’ policy has lost credibility because it has stood against the majority of Arab countries, choosing Qatar over them all, a state without a robust and effective influence on the Palestinian cause and that is only looking at its interests and will not hesitate to give up anything in exchange for achieving its goals.

What is happening now in the region does not bode well for any change on the part of the Qatari regime. On the contrary, it is resisting the Arab alliance, and therefore Hamas must seriously consider rearranging its agenda and start listening to the Arab demands that will certainly help it regain its regional and international standing as a popular resistance movement and not to be included in the list of terrorists. Analysts believe if attempts succeed to pressure on Qatari regime, it will not adhere to its support for Hamas, which may find itself again forced to choose another country ready to receive its leaders. In this case, the next place for Hamas might be Turkey or Sudan, and this generally will put the movement in an international and regional crisis that certainly will affect them politically and financially.

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