Hamas is developing new relations with Turkey, according to new reports coming from the region. The arrangement includes opening an official Hamas office in Turkey in a matter of weeks and a reported Turkish pledge of $300 million to help re-build Hamas-controlled Gaza.
The new relationship isn’t good for Israeli-Palestinian peace, but it does say some things about regional dynamics, according to Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Elliott Abrams.
If Hamas is turning to Turkey, Abrams argues, it means that Syria (and Assad) is no longer a host for the organization’s leadership and Iran’s influence is severely weakened.
It’s not clear, however, what Turkey’s requests are. Abrams isn’t convinced that Turkey will put much pressure on Hamas to offer concessions on renouncing terror or curbing anti-Semitism, but if Hamas were to launch another series of attacks against Israel, “the Turks could find that their new alliance is an embarrassment, complicating relations not only with Israel but with the United States and the EU.”
But for Hamas:
This is a smart move for Hamas, of course, at least so long as Turkey’s star is rising and Erdogan is in charge. Far better a Sunni sponsor with growing influence than a Shia paymaster that is an international pariah under growing sanctions. One has to wonder how the Turkish role affects the internal dynamics in Hamas, where the Gaza hierarchy appears to be pushing aside the formerly dominant outsiders, led by Khaled Meshal from Damascus. Is Turkey supporting, indeed financing, this development? Will it push Hamas into elections, now scheduled for May 4th? Will it urge Hamas to join the PLO (well, little urging is needed for that one) and agree to negotiations with Israel?