Saudi Arabia’s Faisal: Iran is breeding chaos through Hamas
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Despite recent overtures from Hamas, Saudi Arabia is making it clear it has no intention of forging a relationship with the group.
At the annual anti-Iran regime rally July 9, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal Al Saud accused Iran of breeding chaos in several Middle Eastern countries by supporting various groups, including Hamas in Palestine.
The Paris rally, organized by the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (Mujahedeen-e-Khalq), drew more than 100,000 people, including Western political leaders such as Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca, the former vice president of the European Union, and Philip Crowley, the former US assistant secretary of state.
Faisal said, “Iran is adopting hostile policies and establishing sectarian organizations and irregular armies in the name of Islam to serve the interests of its leadership. Iran’s policies, followed by the regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini since 1979, are based — from a constitutional standpoint — on the principle of exporting the revolution and violating states’ policy under the slogan of supporting the weak and the oppressed.”
Hamas leader Ahmed Youssef told Al-Monitor that those sudden and shocking statements came in the context of Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with Israel within the scope of the existing media war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and attempts by each party to accuse the other of supporting terrorism.
He said, “It is likely that Israel has made intelligence and security alliances with some Arab countries, aimed at targeting Iran and the Palestinian resistance.” Those Arab countries want to “woo Israel, which has become the most important regional player at the military and political levels.”
Youssef believes the region is witnessing a repositioning of stances and alliances. He said, “It seems that the current map of the region, after the massive destruction of Arab states such as Syria and Iraq, is taking on a sectarian shape with political and media battles between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Arab region is also witnessing polarizations between its states.
“In this context, Hamas is trying to maintain its independence and not be dragged into the policy of axes, whose effects on the Palestinian cause are disastrous. This is why statements are being issued reflecting the disagreement between this or that party and Hamas.”
Youssef said he hopes Saudi Arabia will officially denounce Faisal’s statements. But given the alliances in the region, such as the international coalition against the Islamic State and the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabiato fight the rebels in Yemen, some analysts believe that will not be the case.
Palestinian political analyst Akram Atallah told Al-Monitor that Faisal is one of the main pillars of the Saudi regime and one of the most influential figures within the royal family. Atallah pointed out that Faisal’s statements didn’t just appear out of the blue and aren’t likely to be denied, given the nature of Saudi Arabia’s alliances in the region and the much-talked-about Israeli-Turkish rapprochement.
Atallah said, “These statements were made at an anti-Iranian regime rally. It seems that Faisal wanted to take an explicit position by attending this influential rally. Faisal wanted to deliver a message to the Iranian opposition that Hamas is allying with a regime that [Saudi Arabia] opposes and that is breeding chaos in the region.”
Hamas apparently convinced itself that it had a relationship in good standing with Saudi Arabia, when in fact their ties are severed, he added.
“There is no Saudi communication with Hamas. Hamas is delusional to the point that in early April, it talked about a Saudi invitation to a [Hamas] delegation to visit Saudi Arabia at the end of the month. However, this was later denied in the media. This means that Hamas convinced itself that Saudi Arabia is trying to get closer to it. However, the Saudi anti-Hamas position remained unchanged, despite the change of Saudi governments,” Atallah said.
He added, “At the beginning of the rule of Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud [in January 2015], Saudi Arabia gave the impression that it was changing its position and that Salman could be more open than former Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz toward the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas — but it soon readopted its old stances.”
Atallah believes that, at the moment, Hamas does not want to upset any of the Arab parties, particularly Saudi Arabia. He explained that Hamas has many enemies in the region and the world, and cannot afford to start new battles, especially since it realizes the economic and media power of the Saudi regime.
“Hamas tried to get close to the Saudi regime. It maintained an incomprehensible stance on Operation Decisive Storm in which Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries hit Yemen. Hamas assumed this was a token of friendship offered to Saudi Arabia within the scope of new alliances in the region,” Atallah said. “I do not think Hamas is in the process of starting any battle against Saudi Arabia, not even in the media, since it knows the Saudi strength and its influence over some of the Arab countries with whom Hamas seeks to establish good relations.”
So even though Hamas has made gestures of friendship toward Saudi Arabia and has taken an impartial position on numerous political and military battles waged by Saudi Arabia, the recent Saudi statements about Hamas make it very clear the two have no relationship.