September 9, 2014 | Press Release
FDD Calls on U.S. to Increase Pressure on Qatar, Turkey and Iran to Cease Funding for Hamas
WASHINGTON – Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, recommended Tuesday that the United States increase pressure on Qatar and Turkey to cease funding for Hamas. Schanzer, testifying before a House Foreign Affairs joint subcommittee hearing, also said the Obama administration should consider demanding a cessation of Hamas financing as part of a final negotiated nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran.
In his remarks before the Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa and the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, Schanzer praised the regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for destroying more than 1,639 smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. These operations have dealt a blow to Hamas’s ability to tax smuggled goods and move money.
“Washington should openly encourage Egypt’s continued operations against the tunnels, and other operations that have hindered Hamas finances,” Schanzer said. “Egypt, in my estimation, has in some ways done more to weaken Hamas financially than the United States and Israel combined.”
While Iran and Hamas have grown apart in recent years, Schanzer said there is widespread recognition within the Israeli military that Hamas’ fighting capabilities have improved because of Iranian assistance and because Iran has armed Hamas with missiles. An estimated 4,000 projectiles launched by Hamas at Israel during the most recent round of fighting “are the blessings of Iran’s transfer of technology” to the Palestinian terror group, he said. Iran also provided a great many of the long range rockets that Hamas fired at Israel during the recent Gaza conflict, including the M302.
“Regardless of what the nuclear talks yield, Iran’s terrorism finance activities must continue to be punished through sanctions,” Schanzer said. “There appears to be a temptation on the part of the P5+1 to welcome Iran back into the formal financial sector if a deal is reached. This is exactly what Hamas and other terror groups are waiting for. Washington must remain committed to disrupting the Iran-Hamas pipeline, and designate more Iranian entities that finance Hamas. Treasury must continue to enforce the existing sanctions, as well.”
Schanzer said Qatar is playing a larger role in Hamas financing, filling much of the void left by Iran. Doha has reportedly provided millions of dollars to Hamas over the last 10 years and currently host senior Hamas figures. He said Turkey may also have provided significant financial support for the terror group. And he noted that Hamas fundraises in Sudan while Port Sudan is the preferred hub for transferring Iranian weaponry to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Schanzer recommended Congress consider putting a hold on the $11 billion arms deal the United States recently signed with Qatar and assess the cost and effort of removing U.S. personnel from the al-Udaid airbase near Doha.
Schanzer is a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of Treasury, where he played an integral role in the designation of numerous terrorist financiers. He is a former research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and has studied Middle East history in four countries. He earned his Ph.D. from Kings College London and is the author of three books, including State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State and Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine.
The full text of the written testimony can be found here
About the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. Founded in 2001, FDD combines policy research, democracy and counterterrorism education, strategic communications and investigative journalism in support of its mission to promote pluralism, defend democratic values and fight the ideologies that drive terrorism. Visit our website at www.defenddemocracy.org and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Matthew E. Berger, Senior Director of Communications