Hamas asked to keep low profile in Qatar

Qatar has asked Hamas to cease overt political activities on its soil, the Arab language daily Asharq al-Awsat reports.

January 7, 2015 12:21
1 minute read.
Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh (R) and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani

Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh (R) and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani arrive at a cornerstone laying ceremony in the southern Gaza Strip. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal will stay in Qatar for now, but he wouldn’t be allowed to carry out any activities from the Gulf emirate, according to a report published on Wednesday in the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

Quoting “informed sources,” the Saudi-owned newspaper said that although Qatar has not asked Mashaal to leave the country, it has changed its political stance toward Hamas.

Qatar has asked Mashaal and Hamas to refrain from conducting any public political activities in the country, the sources said. Qatar does not want to be seen as if it continues to support the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in light of the recent Qatari-Egyptian reconciliation, the sources explained.

Following the rapprochement between the two countries, Qatar recently asked a number of exiled Muslim Brotherhood figures to leave the country.

A Turkish newspaper reported earlier this week that Mashaal has decided to relocate to Ankara after being asked by Qatar to leave Doha.

Hamas has, however, strongly denied the report.

Qatar has neither confirmed nor denied that it has decided to expel the Hamas leader.

Husam Badran, a senior Hamas official who is currently in Doha, said on Wednesday that he and Mashaal had no plans to leave Qatar. “We’re staying here and there is no change [in our status],” Badran said.

Ashraq al-Awsat also reported that the only Hamas representative in Egypt, Musa Abu Marzouk, has moved to the Gaza Strip, where he is staying with his wife and children.

It’s not clear whether Badran was expelled or had voluntarily chosen to relocate to Gaza.

The only three countries that are today prepared to receive Hamas leaders are Iran, Turkey and Sudan.

The paper said that Hamas leaders recently sensed a “certain change” in Qatar’s policy toward their movement.

The Hamas leaders recently met to discuss the purported change, but did not make any decision regarding the possibility of leaving Qatar.

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