Brothers again: Saudi Arabia and Hamas patch up differences

Brothers again: Saudi Arabia and Hamas patch up differences
2 min read
19 March, 2015
Analysis: Hamas' Khaled Mashaal has reportedly been asked by the Saudi king to patch up relations between Riyadh and Yemen's Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, showing a new level of trust in the Palestinian leader.
Mashaal has seen as an influential figure amongst moderate Islamist groups [Getty]
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal will lead mediation efforts between Saudi Arabia and Yemen's Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, al-Islah, according to reports.

Sources speaking to the Turkish news agency Anadolu on condition of anonymity, said that the Hamas politburo chief took up the role after a request by Saudi officials concerned about the deteriorating situation in Yemen.

Mashaal is said to have agreed after talks with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the Minister of Defence Mohammad bin Salman, and other leading figures in the kingdom.

The Hamas leader was picked for the role due to his close relations with Islah.

The fractured relationship between Islah and Saudi Arabia comes after Riyadh took a confrontational stance against the Muslim Brotherhood during the movement's successes in the Arab Spring.

However, Riyadh's request to Hamas also marks a milestone in the mending of ties between the Palestinian group and Saudi Arabia, which have been frayed over the past four years.
     These contacts could even lead to Mashaal to visit Riyadh
- Fahmi Huwaydi

"Mashaal told me that the ice between Hamas and Riyadh has been broken four years after a halt in the relations," said Fahmi Huwaydi, an Egyptian writer.

Following the death of Saudi Arabia's previous monarch, King Abdallah, Mashaal was said to have offered his condolences at the Saudi embassy in Doha.

The Hamas leader also praised the kingdom's role in supporting the Palestinian cause.

"Contacts between Hamas and Riyadh will continue to [improve] and they will cooperate on many issues. These contacts could even lead to Mashaal to visit Riyadh," said Huwaydi.

Hamas is in a better position following a visit to Riyadh by Rashed Ghanoushi, leader of Tunisia's Ennahdha Movement, which has close links to the Muslim Brotherhood, to pay respects following the death of the king.

A Saudi source inside Riyadh's inner-circle also confirmed that high-level contacts were taking place between Mashaal and leading Saudi figures in the past few days to prepare for visit by the Hamas leader to Riyadh.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.