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Friday, January 27, 2012

Report: Hamas has already unofficially quit Syria

From Reuters:

The leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, has effectively abandoned his headquarters in the Syrian capital, Damascus, diplomatic and intelligence sources said on Friday.

“Meshaal is not staying in Syria as he used to do. He is almost out all the time,” said a diplomat in the region who spoke on condition on anonymity.

A regional intelligence source, who also did not wish to be identified, said: “He’s not going back to Syria. That’s the decision he’s made. There’s still a Hamas presence there, but it’s insignificant.”

The sources said Meshaal would not publicly shut down the political headquarters of Hamas in Syria, where it has long been hosted by Assad and by his father before him.

“In the past month he may have only stayed five days in Syria and the rest he spent in Qatar, Turkey and Egypt,” said the diplomat. “But he did not close the headquarters in Syria in full and there are some Hamas officials still there.”

“Our belief is that Hamas will not announce a departure from Syria even if it happened,” the diplomat added.

The sources said Meshaal was currently in Egypt. But “there was no agreement to open an office in Cairo. Not yet,” said the diplomat. “The expected residence for Meshaal is Qatar where he may stay most of the time until the Syria smoke has cleared.”
A YNet op-ed says that Hamas is in trouble, losing funding from Iran and its headquarters in Damascus.

But another Yediot article in Hebrew, quoted in Arabic sources, says that Turkey has agreed to give Hamas some $300 million annually.