ABU DHABI Ñ The major U.S. allies in the Gulf have quietly refused a request by the United States to
drop their financial support for Hamas.
The U.S. message was relayed by Assistant Secretary of State William
Burns. Over the last month, Burns has traveled through GCC countries and
urged them to halt funding for Hamas, said to receive about $100 million a
year, Middle East Newsline reported.
Gulf diplomatic sources said the Bush administration failed to win
commitments from several Gulf Cooperation Council states to end financial support for Hamas.
So far, the sources said, at least three countries have rejected the
U.S. request to end funding for Hamas. They identified the states as Kuwait,
Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
"The policy of GCC countries is to say that there is no official support
for Hamas," a diplomatic source said. "That has come to mean that the GCC
will not block financing to the movement."
"We want to work as hard as we can in the United States government to
support those efforts across the whole range of areas: law enforcement
cooperation, intelligence sharing, drying up the financing of terrorist
groups, whether it's groups that have carried out acts in Saudi Arabia or
any place else in the region or around the world," Burns told a news
conference in Kuwait on June 25. "And I think what we've seen is a renewed
effort and a stepped-up effort on the part of the United States and Saudi
Arabia to cooperate on those issues, and again we work with lots of other
partners in the region as well."
Hamas politburo chief Khaled Masha'al has frequently visited the three
GCC states. The Gulf Arab governments have given Masha'al an official
"This [funding to Hamas] is under our control and according to our
interests," Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al Jarallah said. "We
distinguish between relations [with Hamas] and support. They are different."
Al Jarallah said Kuwait supports and recognizes the Palestinian
Authority and its new prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas. He said the sheikdom
does not officially recognize Hamas.
The sources said Qatar and Saudi Arabia have relayed similar responses
to the United States. All three GCC countries are said to serve as major
contributors to as well as safe havens for Hamas leaders.
"Kuwait can't be part of the U.S. plan to dismantle Hamas," a Kuwaiti
diplomat said. "It's not in our interest."