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Hamas resumes Iran ties after Syria dispute
Agence France Presse
File - Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader speaks during his visit to the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh near the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 7, 2011. (Mohammed Zaatari/The Daily Star)
File - Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader speaks during his visit to the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh near the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 7, 2011. (Mohammed Zaatari/The Daily Star)
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GAZA CITY: The Hamas movement has “resumed” relations with Iran after a temporary falling out over the Syrian conflict, a senior member of the Islamist group said Monday.

“Relations between Hamas and Iran have resumed,” Mahmoud Zahar told reporters at a news conference in Gaza, the Palestinian enclave ruled by Hamas since 2007.

Ties had been “affected by the Syria situation, and Hamas has withdrawn from Syria so that it can’t be identified with this or that side,” he said.

“We’ve confirmed we are not interfering in the Syrian case, or in any other Arab country.”

Iran had long supported Hamas against their shared enemy Israel.

But exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal left his base in Damascus after the Syrian uprising broke out in 2011, criticizing President Bashar Assad, a key ally of Iran, and moved to Qatar.

But Zahar denied there had been a complete severing of ties.

“Our relations with Iran were not cut, and we don’t wish to cut ties with any Arab countries either, even those that are fighting against us,” he said in reference to Egypt, which has taken a hard line against the Islamist group since the military overthrow of president Mohammad Morsi in July.

Hamas is the Palestinian affiliate of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Zahar said there was still cooperation with Egypt on getting supplies, including fuel, into the Gaza Strip, but “there is no political contact, because the current [Egyptian] regime is against it.”

Since July, Egypt’s military has destroyed hundreds of tunnels used to bring crucial supplies, including fuel, into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Having initially spoken out against Egypt’s new military regime, Hamas has sought to avoid a further deterioration in relations with Cairo.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 10, 2013, on page 8.
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Mahmoud Zahhar / Hamas / Iran / Syria / Palestine / Iran
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