The sources said Hamas has already established a presence in at least
nine Middle East states, including Egypt, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar,
Sudan, Syria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, Middle East Newsline reported. They said Hamas plans to
use some of these countries as alternatives to Syria, whose ruling regime
has been fighting a revolt since March.
"Hamas will slowly move its key people out of Damascus, but
will keep Syria as an operational base because of its proximity to Israel,
the West Bank and Gaza Strip," the source said. "High profile activities
will be conducted outside Syria, particularly in Egypt and hopefully
The sources said Qatar has been the leading political ally and financier
of Hamas in the Arab world. They said Qatar was pressing Jordan to
allow Hamas to reestablish a formal presence in the Hashemite kingdom after
an absence of nearly a decade.
The sources said Hamas wants to use Jordan as a base for operations in
the West Bank, controlled by the Palestinian Authority. They said the two
sides were scheduled to meet on Oct. 20
when Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Masha'al arrives in Amman
accompanied by senior Qatari officials.
"Qatar is willing to pay [Jordan's] King Abdullah to again host
Hamas, but this is very problematic while he has his hands full with the
Islamic opposition," another Palestinian source said.
Both Israel and the United States have been dismayed by the expanded
Arab support for Hamas, particularly by Egypt and Qatar, military allies of
Washington. But the sources said the Arab campaign has been explained as
part of an effort to woo Hamas away from Iran, the leading military supplier
to the Palestinian Islamic movement.
The sources said Egypt's new military regime has agreed to work closely
with Hamas on such issues as border cooperation, lifting the siege from the
Gaza Strip and the release of Palestinians held by Israel. They said Cairo
was encouraged by the implementation of the first stage of a deal in which
Israel would release more than 1,000 prisoners for an Israeli soldier
abducted by Hamas in 2006.
"The assessment in Cairo as well as in other capitals is that the PA and
Fatah is finished, and that Hamas represents the next generation of
the Palestinians," the second source said.