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Hamas and Iran look to rekindle relationship

Hamas and the Iranian government are aiming to repair the current strain in their relationship with a “clean slate,” a Hamas official said Thursday in a statement coming on the foot of an eight-day visit to Iran directed at scripting a new chapter based on mutual interests between the terror group and Tehran. “We hope that this visit is an introduction to a new page for cooperation between Hamas and the Islamic Republic of Iran," Senior Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan, who called the meeting successful and positive said, signaling an imminent reconciliation after a period of tension between the two. Iran had invited the Palestinian delegation to participate in the country’s 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution; the movement that toppled the Shah of Iran and replaced the monarchy with an Islamic theocracy led by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. “We found support for the resistance in Palestine” Hamdan said, adding that Iran continues to back the Palestinian resistance and right to statehood, even in the aftermath of the Iran nuclear deal. Hamas’s open support of the Syrian civil war against President Bashar Al Assad’s regime, currently backed by Iran, has caused a major rift between core leadership since 2011, subsequently heightened by leaked documents belonging to senior Hamas member Mousa Abu Marzook indicating that Iran was lying about their support for Hamas, Arab media reported. According to the documents, Iran had not provided support to Hamas since 2009. Ties between the two were further strained when Hamas declined to take Iran’s side in the proxy war against Saudi Arabia in both Syria and Yemen. Though Hamas belongs to the Sunni Islamic sect and Iran is Shiite, the two had decades of shared interest, a relationship which mainly centered upon aid checks from Iran to Gaza. Iran significantly increased its financial support to the Palestinians after PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004 and again with Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. Then in 2006 when Hamas won in the Palestinian elections, other sources of foreign aid began to dwindle, leaving Iran to pick up the slack in supporting Hamas’s leadership in Gaza. In July 2015, a high-ranking Hamas official reported that the organization was no longer receiving aid from Iran. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that some of the $150 billion provided in sanctions relief to Iran would likely end up in the hands of terrorist groups, adding that it would be impossible for the U.S. to prevent this.
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