Hamas leader Meshaal in surprise visit to Riyadh

Hamas leader Meshaal in surprise visit to Riyadh
Khaled Meshaal, and other Hamas leaders arrived in Saudi Arabia late on Wednesday, Arab media reported, after years of being cold-shouldered by the late Saudi king Abdullah.
2 min read
16 July, 2015
Hamas leaders were cold-shouldered by late king Abdullah. [Getty]
A senior delegation from Islamic resistence movemnet Hamas has arrived in Saudi Arabia, according to Arabic media reports.

Website arabi21.com reported that the delegation which arrived late on Wednesday is headed by Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas’s political bureau.

Relations between Hamas and Riyadh were strained during the regin of late King Abdullah who died in Februaury.

The late Saudi monarch banned Hamas leaders from visiting the kingdom.

The officially stated purpose of the visit according to sources in Hamas is to perform the Umra, the minor pilgrimage to Mecca many Muslims traditionally undertake in the holy month of Ramadan. 

Meshaal’s visit, though unannounced, has been anticipated for some time. 

On Thursday, Palestine TV said Meshaal would meet senior Saudi officials during his two-day visit, to discuss a number of issues, but did not specify which officials or the nature of the topics that will be discussed.

The visit to the kingdom comes two days after a landmark deal was signed between world powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear programme.  

Relations between Hamas, which has close links to the international Muslim Brotherhood organization, and Saudi Arabia had soured following the latter’s support for the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Mohammed Morsi in a coup led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, current Egyptian president who is widely seen as hostile to Hamas.

The new Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who ascended to the throne following the death of his brother King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, is reported that pursuing a new approach concerning the Muslim Brotherhood in the region and Hamas. 

There are also reports of a rift within Hamas and its partner  Islamic Jihad concerning relations with Iran, which have also been hurt by Hamas’s neutral stance on the conflict in Syria.

Hamas’s military wing seems to favour strong ties to Iran and Hizballah, while members of the political wing reportedly favour dealing with Arab and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey.