Egyptian-Qatari Rapprochement Could Push Hamas Back into Tehran’s Orbit

Post-Arab Spring regional realignment broke Hamas’ ties with Iran, now normalisation of relations between Egypt and Qatar could bring them back


There are recent indications that Egypt and Qatar are on the path to reconciliation. Qatar’s relations with a number of states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have been strained due to the small Gulf state’s support for Islamist movements, namely the Muslim Brotherhood. While meetings between Egyptian and Qatari diplomats may not lead to a full thawing of relations, normalisation does have major implications for the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (known better by its Arabic acronym: Hamas).

The Syrian conflict precipitated a shifting of alliances in the MENA region. The Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters, as well as Iranian support for military operations against a nascent rebellion in early-2012, led Hamas leadership to withdraw from its headquarters in Damascus and relocate to the Qatari capital of Doha.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal delivering a speech in Damascus in 2005 (via LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Hamas envisioned an opportunity with the so-called “Arab Spring.” Long-marginalised Islamist political organisations mobilised with strong showings in post-revolutionary elections, heralding a shift toward Sunni Islamist rule in the region. Hamas viewed this new status quo as more favourable to its struggle for Palestinian liberation, especially compared to the Arab dictators who had made peace with Israel. In Tunisia, the Ennahda party won October 2011 parliamentary elections and in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood — Hamas’ parent organisation — and the Salafist Hezb an-Nour won a plurality of votes in late-2011/early-2012 parliamentary elections. Additionally, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi claimed victory as Egypt’s first democratically-elected president in June 2012.

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Review: Egyptian Foreign Policy from Mubarak to Morsi: Against the National Interest

Nael Shama, Egyptian Foreign Policy from Mubarak to Morsi: Against the National Interest (New York: Routledge, 2013).

Egyptian Foreign Policy From Mubarak to MorsiIn the latest addition to the Routledge Series in Middle Eastern Politics, Nael Shama expands upon his Ph.D. dissertation under the supervision of Raymond Hinnebusch at the University of St. Andrews and examines Egyptian foreign policy by investigating the relationship between regime security (as opposed to national security) and foreign policy decision-making. Shama outlines an extensive theoretical and historical framework, stretching from the 1952 Free Officers Coup, through the successive regimes of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. The work culminates by analysing post-Mubarak foreign policies of both the transitional Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) government and deposed president Mohamed Morsis year of rule.

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