April 22, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Chief Meets Turkish President, Considers Move From Qatar to Turkey

April 22, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Chief Meets Turkish President, Considers Move From Qatar to Turkey

Latest Developments

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on April 20 — the first meeting between the two leaders since Israel launched its counteroffensive against Hamas in Gaza. Hamas is drawing closer to Turkey — a longstanding ally of the terrorist group — as Qatar is reevaluating its role as mediator between Hamas and Israel and as Hamas is reportedly in talks to relocate its political headquarters from Doha. According to the Wall Street Journal, the terrorist group is considering moving the office to Oman, but Saudi media claimed that “talks between Turkey and Hamas are underway to transfer the organization’s headquarters from Qatar to Turkey.”

Expert Analysis

“It remains to be seen whether Erdogan welcomes the relocation of Hamas’s headquarters to Turkey. However, what we can say with certainty is that this is fully consistent with Ankara’s policies dating back more than a decade. What is unacceptable is that Turkey is both a NATO ally and a sponsor of terrorism.” — Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Turkey has been signaling its intention to act as a mediator in the ongoing Gaza war. In practice, this means one thing: Encouraging Hamas to depart from Qatar and embed itself inside Turkey. Erdogan’s meeting with Haniyeh is clear proof of this intention, which should be unacceptable to the United States, since Hamas is a terrorist organization. Ankara is taking concrete steps to deepen ties with terrorist entities that fundamentally contradict its commitments to NATO, the European Union, and its bilateral relationship with the United States.” — Sinan Ciddi, FDD Non-Resident Senior Fellow

Turkey’s Ties to Hamas

Hamas established a presence in Turkey in 2011 at the direct invitation of the Turkish government. The move was part of an Egyptian-brokered deal that saw Israel release more than one thousand Palestinian prisoners, including high-profile Hamas figures, in exchange for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Since then, Turkey has provided a safe haven for senior Hamas leadership. Haniyeh lives part-time in Turkey, and he and his son hold Turkish passports. Ankara also provides significant financial and material support to Hamas. In July, Israeli customs authorities intercepted 16 tons of explosive material used to make rockets on its way from Turkey to the Gaza Strip.

Erdogan Defends Hamas, Blames Israel for Gaza War

Since Hamas’s October 7 attack, Erdogan has repeatedly blamed Israel alone for the war in Gaza. At a pro-Hamas rally on October 28, Erdogan called Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza a “massacre” and said that Turkey is preparing to “tell the whole world that Israel is a war criminal.” Erdogan has also accused Israel of committing “genocide” in Gaza, claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is worse than Adolf Hitler, and described Hamas terrorists as freedom fighters. Since October 7, Turkish officials, including Erdogan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, have openly met with their Iranian counterparts to coordinate an anti-Israel response to the ongoing war.

10 Things to Know About Hamas and Turkey,” FDD Insight

Hamas Leader to Meet With Erdogan in Turkey,” FDD Flash Brief

Qatar Reevaluates Role as Hamas Mediator,” FDD Flash Brief


Gulf States Israel Israel at War Turkey