July 31, 2014 | Policy Brief

Khamenei Mends Relations with Hamas

July 31, 2014 | Policy Brief

Khamenei Mends Relations with Hamas

Arm Hamas. That was the main message of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s speech on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the feast marking the end of the month of Ramadan. The support for Hamas marked a shift in rhetoric for the Iranian leader. Ties suffered because of Iran’s support to Bashar al-Assad’s brutal suppression of the Sunni led opposition in Syria.  The external leadership left its headquarters in Damascus in 2012. 

“A rabid dog, and a predatory wolf has attacked innocent people,” Khamenei said, referring to Israel and its current war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. He accused “the usurping and infidel Zionist regime,” of committing “genocide.” Khamenei also demanded “punishment” for the “perpetrators of these crimes and their backers.” 

Praising the “resistance of a besieged people,” in the face of the “evil, filthy and merciless Zionist regime,” Khamenei condemned attempts to reach a ceasefire, which in his words, only serve the purpose of “saving the Zionist regime.” 

Finally, commenting on the topic of the “fatwa” of “the President of the United States to disarm the resistance,” Khamenei said: “On the contrary, we say that the entire world, and in particular the world of Islam, is obliged to do everything in its ability to arm the people of Palestine.”

The Gaza war has been a gift to Khamenei. Ever since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, Tehran has quietly labored to find a magic formula to secure the survival of the Assad  regime while not alienating Palestinian Sunni militants. Now that the Assad regime, thanks to the Islamic Republic and with the Lebanese Hezbollah’s support, has managed to consolidate its position, Tehran is  looking to rekindle relations with Hamas. 

Rumors about a visit by Hamas’s Khaled Mashal to Tehran never materialized. But on July 23, Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif declared Tehran’s support for “the Palestinian resistance” in a widely publicized phone conversation with the political bureau leader. 

Renewed ties with Hamas is a sign that Tehran can still easily overrule objections of Lebanese Hezbollah and the Assad regime, both of which have had their differences with Hamas.  More importantly, the renewed partnership should serve as a warning to those who believe a negotiated solution to the nuclear crisis would lead to changes in the regime’s policy of supporting violent non-state actors. 

Ali Alfoneh is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.


Iran Palestinian Politics