A very interesting article by Stratfor, titled “Saudi Arabia and Hamas: A Pragmatic Partnership”, July 2015, for the relations between Saudi Arabia and Hamas. Hamas is the Islamist organization that runs Gaza, and it is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. See map 1.
According to Stratfor, during the last months Saudi Arabia and Hamas have been trying to improve their relations, and it mentions that if Saudi Arabia manages to reestablish her influence over Hamas, she could use Hamas, together with Egypt and Israel, in order to contain Iran in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Please note that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, they all face two common enemies i.e. Turkey and Iran. According to Stratfor, in 2000 Saudi Arabia was providing almost 50% of Hamas financing, but due to Hamas suicide bombings in Israel, many western countries started focusing on Hamas, and Saudi Arabia decided to gradually loosen her ties with the organization.
In 2007 Saudi Arabia tried to mediate in order for a coalition government to be formed between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in West bank, but that did not work out, and Iran found a chance to increase its control over Hamas. Iran became Hamas main supporter until 2012, when Hamas decided to support the Sunni Islamists in Syria, who were fighting Bashar al Assad, the main Iranian ally. From that moment Hamas came mainly under the influence of Turkey and Qatar, without ever completely breaking her ties with Iran.
I must also add that Fatah is the political wing of the organization that was established by Yasser Arafat many decades ago. Fatah and Hamas, even though they are both Palestinian political organizations, they do not get along very well, because Hamas is an Islamist organization while Fatah is a socialist organization. In North Africa and the Middle East the most common political division is between Islamists and socialists. Both of them are Muslims and they believe in Islam, but Islamists believe that the state should according to the Islamic Law i.e. Sharia Law and the Koran, while socialists believe in a secular state, and they believe that Islam should have a secondary role, and not be involved in the way the state is run. Muamar Gaddafi in Libya, Bashar al Assad in Syria, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and many others, were all socialist leaders. On the other hand the leadership of Turkey today i.e. Erdogan, the leadership of Saudi Arabia, of Qatar, of the United Arab Emirates and of Iran, they are all leaderships of the Islamist type today.
For Hamas and Fatah see also the following Wall Street Journal article, titled “5 Things You Need to Know About Hamas and Fatah”, August 2014.
I will now get back to Stratfor’s article. The article mentions the recent visit of Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, to Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to persuade the Saudis to partially cooperate with Iran against ISIS i.e. the Islamic State. Stratfor does not mention it, but it is a well known fact that ISIS main supporter is Turkey. That does not mean of course that Turkey and ISIS are the same thing. It simply means that the country with the greatest influence in ISIS is Turkey.
The growing presence of ISIS in Gaza is a problem for Hamas, because Turkey has no motive to help Hamas against the Islamic State, because Hamas is influenced by Iran too, while there is no Iranian influence in ISIS. That’s why Hamas is asking the Saudis to cooperate with their great enemy, the Iranians, against ISIS, because ISIS i.e. Turkey, is a threat to both Iran and Saudi Arabia. For the confrontation between ISIS and Hamas in Gaza see the following BBC article, titled “Can Hamas hold back Islamic State in Gaza?”, June 2015.
The article also mentions the problems that could arise for Saudi Arabia if she finally decides to support Hamas against ISIS. One problem would be that the relations between Saudi Arabia and Fatah in West Bank could deteriorate, and Iran could get a chance to approach Fatah. Another problem, according to Stratfor, is that if Saudi Arabia starts funding Hamas, and Hamas keep attacking Egypt and Israel, Saudi Arabia could have problems with Egypt and Israel.
One could wonder how would it be possible for Hamas to receive funding from Saudi Arabia, and at the same time keep attacking Egypt and Israel, since the two countries cooperate with Saudi Arabia against Turkey and Iran. Things are not simple. Let’s say that today Hamas receives 1.000 euro from Turkey, Iran and Qatar, some of it in the form of money and some of it in the form of armaments. Now let’s suppose that Saudi Arabia pays Hamas another 1.000 euro annually. Now Saudi Arabia would provide 50% of Hamas funding, and therefore Iran, Turkey and Qatar would still have influence over Hamas. Besides Hamas has its own agenda.
Therefore if under the new circumstances Hamas kept attacking Israel and Egypt from Gaza, even if the attacks were less frequent due to Saudi influence, these attacks would be carried out by a war machine with an annual budget of 2.000 euros annually, and half of it would be Saudi money. Therefore the attacks against Israel and Egypt would be partially financed by Saudi Arabia, and that would be a huge problem for the relations between Israel and Egypt with Saudi Arabia.
I must also add a different perspective for the relation between Hamas and Saudi Arabia. If at some point Egypt or Israel improve their relations with Turkey, Saudi Arabia could use Hamas in Gaza to attack them, exactly in the same way that Turkey and Iran are doing now. Don’t forget that Israel was one of Turkey’s closest allies just a few years ago, and Egypt, under the leadership of Mohamed Morsi in 2012, became an ally of Turkey too, until Morsi was overtuned by General al-Sisi. Therefore one should not take today’s alliances for granted.
For Stratfor’s article see the following link:
“Saudi Arabia and Hamas: A Pragmatic Partnership”, 25η Ιουλίου 2015