Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal speaks during an interview with Reuters in Doha.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas on Sunday strongly denied a report that claimed it has agreed to send hundreds of its men to Yemen to help in the fight against the Iranian-backed Houthis.
Hamas said the report, which appeared in the Iranian news agency Fars, was aimed at disrupting the “successful” visit of its leader, Khaled Mashaal, to Saudi Arabia.
Mashaal’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the first of its kind in three years, is seen as a turning point in relations between the kingdom and Hamas. Hamas officials have hailed the visit as a “huge success.”
According to the Iranian news agency, the Saudi monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, asked Mashaal to dispatch 700 Hamas fighters to Yemen to help in the fighting against the Houthis. The report also claimed that Mashaal asked the Saudis for $20m. in monthly aid to Hamas to enable it to continue managing the affairs of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Mashaal’s visit to Saudi Arabia came in the aftermath of the signing of the nuclear deal between the world powers and Iran. Some reports have suggested that Saudi Arabia is seeking, through the visit, to convince Hamas to join a Sunni-led coalition against Iran.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh described Mashaal’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia as “historic,” saying it would pave the way for restoring brotherly relations between the two sides.
Mashaal was accompanied by three senior Hamas officials: Musa Abu Marzouk, Salah Arouri and Mohamed Nazzal.