It’s been formally acknowledged that U.S. NATO ‘ally’ Turkey is providing safe haven to leaders of Hamas, a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) so designated by the U.S. State Department. By its very definition, an FTO should be considered declared enemy of the U.S. Despite this, Turkey doesn’t appear to be paying any price.
Another player in all this is the small nation of Qatar. It is desperately trying to play both sides of a political fence as leaders of Hamas – to include the terrorist organization’s political leader Khaled Meshaal – has been forcibly relocated to Turkey. The reason these leaders are having to move appear to have more to do with Qatar’s desire not to become increasingly isolated by its Gulf neighbors than any ideological disagreement with Hamas.
According to one report:
Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal, arguably Qatar’s most famous resident, has left Doha, his departure marking a deeper geopolitical shift taking hold in the region.
While the reasons for Mr. Meshal’s departure in late December were cloaked initially by official denials from both Hamas and Qatar – Meshal’s refuge and base of operations since fleeing unrest in Damascus in January 2012 – Hamas officials and observers now say it was brought about by pressure from Qatar’s Arab Gulf neighbors.
The main force at play in the region is a strengthening of an Egyptian-Saudi axis that is increasingly hostile to Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is the Palestinian chapter.
Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who succeeded ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and regards the Brotherhood as his political enemy, has already made life difficult for the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. And Saudi Arabia has blacklisted the Brotherhood as a “terrorist organization,” a measure later adopted by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Qatar, on the other hand, has spent the better part of the last decade backing the Brotherhood and other Islamist movements across the region to use as proxies to push its political agenda.
That Egypt is a primary driver in this new arrangement is in itself another blow to Turkey which underscores just how devastating the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s government was to that country. The attempts to diminish Meshaal’s departure from Qatar for Turkey serves as a testament to that fact. El-Sisi’s ability to apply this kind of pressure also causes diplomatic headaches for every NATO nation allied with Turkey, the Obama administration in particular.
It was amid this air of uncertainty in late December, that Meshal and a group of his closest advisers left their refuge and operations base in Qatar for Istanbul with little fanfare or notice.
Hamas officials were coy about the length of Meshal’s stay in Turkey, with senior official Izzat Rishaq disputing reports that Doha had asked Meshal to leave or that he had abandoned Qatar.
Instead, the officials praised Turkey’s “open political atmosphere,” and Meshal personally thanked Turkey at a high-profile congress for the ruling Justice and Development Party for “standing with the Palestinian people and the Arab and Muslim world.”
Swirling speculation over a Hamas-Qatar fallout forced Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled bin Mohamed al-Attiya to deny rumors that Meshal had been forced out, stressing that “Khaled Meshal is a dear guest in Qatar” whose welcome had not been worn out.
But amid the conflicting statements, one message came through loud and clear: the Qatar-Hamas honeymoon was officially over.
It wasn’t that Meshaal left Qatar “with little fanfare or notice”. As Shoebat.com reported earlier this month, Hamas denied Meshaal ever left. At the time, it was Israel that claimed Meshaal had relocated to Turkey.
These new reports reveal that Israel was telling the truth and Hamas was lying.