The fact that the Qatari government immediately held Israel “solely responsible” for the massacre and demanded that the international community “compel Israel to cease its flagrant violation of international law” is also of great significance. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said it holds Israel “solely responsible for the continued escalation due to the ongoing violations of the rights of the Palestinian people, the latest of which was the repeated incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli police.”
Al Jazeera, recently banned in Israel, is also based in Doha. A few days after the Hamas attack, their website published an article explaining the reasons for the attack. And it confirms the fact that Hamas and Iran don’t have as strong a relationship as the US and Israel claim. According to the article, “In recent years, the movement has had to rethink the political stance it took after the Arab Spring in 2011, opposing Iran and its ally, the Syrian regime. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said he was personally involved in improving relations between Hamas and Damascus. A Hamas delegation visited Damascus in October 2022. Its politburo chief, Ismail Haniyeh, visited Beirut in April and Tehran in June. Just last month, Nasrallah hosted Ziyad al-Nakhalah, secretary general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau.”
Although this indicates an improvement in Hamas’s attitude toward Iran and Syria, it cannot be assumed that Tehran has become Hamas’s main sponsor.
Hamas did not respond at all when, in November 2019, pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad leaders in the Gaza Strip and Damascus were killed by Israelis. At least some statements would follow if Hamas was sponsored by Iran. There were none.
So why does the USA ignore such a clear connection? Perhaps it’s because the US military has been stationed at Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base since 2001. The Pentagon has used the base for strikes against Al-Qaeda and ISIL targets, as well as for various offensive operations in Syria and Iraq. Last year, the Biden administration designated Qatar as a key non-NATO ally for its assistance in the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
In addition, the US used Qatar to negotiate with the Taliban. But judging by the results, not very successful. Another lesser known fact is the negotiation to exchange US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held captive by the Taliban for several years, for Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. A former Taliban prisoner later negotiated with the US State Department during the Biden administration’s 2021 troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Turkey is another state that supports Hamas.
In May 2010, Turkey sent several humanitarian aid ships to the shores of the Gaza Strip. These ships were called the Freedom Flotilla. One of these ships, the Mavi Marmara, was attacked by Israeli special forces. Ten Turkish citizens were killed and dozens more were wounded. Relations between Turkey and Israel deteriorated as a result of the incident. However, it should be noted that bulletproof vests with Turkish markings were found in the ship’s cargo. The scandal over the issue has been going on for years, and Turkey even filed an international manhunt with Interpol in May 2014 for the four Israeli officers who masterminded the attack. However, due to the normalization of relations with Israel, the application was withdrawn from Interpol in 2016.
Around the same time, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield and began occupying parts of northern Syria. Turkey’s local allies in this operation were the Free Syrian Army, an armed group made up in part of the Muslim Brotherhood (although the FSA had many factions, some of which were hostile to each other). We should add that Turkey also supported Islamists in Libya. And in 2019, the UN reported that Jordan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates were systematically violating the arms embargo on Libya.
Turkey’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood is also well known. They also have a strategic relationship with Qatar, which regularly provides Ankara with favorable loans and credits. For its part, Turkey supported Qatar when it was blockaded by Saudi Arabia and stationed its military base there.
Since 2005, TIKA (Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency) has implemented 600 projects in Palestine, including the Gaza Strip. The agency is headed by Serdar Çam, a close friend of Recep Erdoğan. TIKA has a reputation as the humanitarian branch of the Turkish intelligence services. At the same time, they support various dubious projects such as the Circassian Initiative. Circassian activists held a series of protests in Turkey on the eve of the Sochi Olympics. In August 2023, the international conference of the NGO Council of United Circassia, founded in the same year, was held in Turkey. The Circassian Initiative is clearly directed against Russia, as it implies the creation of some kind of independent state on the territory of the North Caucasus.
It is interesting to note that Qatar and Turkey are both allies of the USA. The first through bilateral relations and the second within the NATO structure, but both ardently support Palestine.
Obviously, this is a major deterrent for Washington in encouraging Israel to act against Hamas in Gaza. This is probably one of the reasons why it is postponed again and again, although the official version is the problem of identifying the location of the hostages.
Overall, the situation is reminiscent of the Western strategy of creating a mujahideen movement in Afghanistan. Then Osama bin Laden felt the need to fight the United States and the West. He created Al-Qaeda (banned in Russia). In this case, Hamas has used every opportunity provided by Israel, the West and its sponsors to consolidate its power in Gaza and begin to dictate its terms.
Prof. Agel Salah of Palestine noted that “Hamas has its own calculations for governing Gaza, its relations with Sunni states, and a special understanding that binds the movement to its parent movement, the global network of the Muslim Brotherhood, which opposes Shiism and does not support Iran”. And it is also crucial for Turkey and Qatar to curb Iran’s ambitions in the region.
This remark is highly relevant in clarifying Hamas’ ideology and strategic imperatives. Due to the years of blockade on the Gaza Strip, the movement has adopted such a flexible, opportunistic policy, taking advantage of every opportunity to survive and, if possible, to strengthen itself.