Sectarian War in Syria Fueled Hamas Split

Hamas Hoping to Realign With Sunni States

by Jason Ditz, June 21, 2013

Hamas’ status as a Sunni Islamist organization has always been peculiar, with the group aligning itself strongly with the Shi’ite bloc in the Middle East. Traditionally the group has been supported strongly by Syria and Iran, and has shared common cause with Hezbollah.

But the increasingly religious nature of Syria’s ongoing civil war has forced Hamas into an awkward spot, and has left the group looking for a new bloc of allies, and a split both within the organization and with its long-standing allies.

Some in Hamas are unhappy with the realignment, which has seen the group cozying up to nations like Qatar at the expense of aid from Iran, which has been dropping off precipitously because of the Hamas leadership’s support for the Syrian rebellion.

Hamas’ interests always begin and end with Palestinian statehood, but its religious nature has obliged its leadership to be at least ambiguous on where it stands on Syria. Whether they can replace the Shi’ite allies with a bloc of Sunni states is unclear at present, and whether those states will be willing to remain long-term supporters is an even bigger question.

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