Iran attempts to end rift between Hamas and Syrian regime and re-build 'Axis of Resistance'

Iran attempts to end rift between Hamas and Syrian regime and re-build 'Axis of Resistance'
Iran is attempting to reconcile Hamas and Damascus since a fall out over the Syria war, with Tehran hoping to rebuild an anti-Israel axis in the region.
3 min read
23 September, 2017
Hizballah, Iran, the Syrian regime and Hamas form the 'Axis of Resistance' [AFP]
Iran is attempting to patch up a rift between Palestinian militant group Hamas and Damascus following a fall out over the Syrian regime's brutal suppression of pro-democracy protests and attacks on civilians from 2011 to now.

Tehran is looking to rebuild its fractured anti-Israel axis in the region - known as the Axis of Resistance - which began to fall apart following the outbreak of the Syria war.

While Iran, Damascus, Hizballah and some Palestinian militant groups have fought side-by-side in the Syria war and strengthened their relationship, Hamas has moved away from the Tehran-led axis.

Moving out

In 2012, Hamas moved its headquarters out of Damascus as the the Syrian regime continued its carnage against the civilian population and an armed opposition to Assad built-up. Many of the groups, like the Palestinian movement Hamas, were Sunni-Islamist inspired.

Iran threw in its support for the Syrian regime early in the war, pouring in thousands of Shia militia fighters as well as money, that has helped tip the balance of the war in Damascus' favour.

Yet, despite their differences on the Syria war, the Palestinian militant group and Iran have recently made public statements of mutual support.

Hamas has undergone a transformation in recent months with the election of Yahya Sinwar as Gaza chief, with the movement improving relations with the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and Egypt.

Although many in Hamas are resentful of Bashar al-Assad's massacres in Syria, Sinwar appears more pragmatic.

"We are waiting for the right time to restore that relationship so that Hamas remains out of the power struggles in the region. We are adopting a 'zero-problems' policy with all parties, so as to serve the Palestinian cause," he said, according to al-Monitor.
[click to enlarge]

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar told al-Mayadeen TV that the Palestinian movement must improve relations with the Syrian regime.

"There are steps and they should continue," he said.

New chapter

Damascus has accused Hamas of providing support to the Syrian opposition throughout the war.

Appearing slightly jaded from this experience, the Syrian regime had reportedly said it is open to reconciliation with Hamas, but would not allow it to open an office in Damascus.

"What happened was big. It was betrayal as Syrian authorities say," Khaled Abdul-Majid, a Palestinian official living in Syria told AP. "These (mediation) efforts have not reached serious steps."

Despite the regime's rhetoric, Iran is believed to wield enormous influence in Damascus following its critical support for the Syrian regime over the past six years of fighting.

There are signs Iran is working to rebuild the anti-Israel axis, as it looks like the war in Syria is winding down in Bashar al-Assad's favour.

Iran would also be keen to take advantage of a "land-bridge" established, which would allow for the easier transfer of arms from Tehran to its regional allies and proxies.

"Senior Iranian officials - including speaker of the Shura Council Ali Larijani and adviser to the supreme leader Ali Akbar Velayati - met with Hamas leaders visiting Iran on 4 August to participate in the second inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani," a source told al-Monitor at the start of the month.
"[Officials] offered to mediate between [Hamas] and the Syrian regime in a bid to restore their broken relations."

Agencies contributed to this story.