Hamas’s Option in Syria


Two political analysts shared their view with Islam Online: the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas” will not leave Syria unless it is asked to do so.  They say that it is not in the interest of Hamas to leave Damascus now.

An Internal Affair

London’s Al-Hayat newspaper claimed that Hamas decided to depart from Syria and that Qatar agreed to host Hamas’s political leaders though not their military leaders, while Jordan and Egypt declined to host them.

Hamas’s leaders confirmed that they are continuing with their activities in Damascus and that the statements made by media sources are false.

Dr. Adnan Abu Amer, a political analyst and expert on Islamist movements, stated that the relationship between Hamas and Syria is primarily based on geopolitical interests.  He added: “Hamas was never a part of the Syrian regime.  They welcomed the Arab revolutions, but when it came to Syria, they stated that it was an ‘internal affair.’  The situation in Syria is different, but in light of the bloodshed and deteriorating state of security, Hamas found itself in a tough situation.”


“It’s not only Syria’s regime that supports Hamas and other resistance factions, but the Syrian people also support Hamas and other resistance factions,” said Abu Amer.  He added: “Today, the people are facing a crisis of the regime, thus complicating the situation for Hamas.  As we said, Hamas was never part of the regime.  They came forward with a written statement showing its gratitude to Syria for supporting them all those years and for paying a high price for its support.  At the same time, their statement did not give legitimacy to the behavior of the regime towards the people, unlike other Palestinian and Lebanese forces who supported and stood by the regime.”

With regard to the possibility of Hamas leaving Syria, Abu Amer stated: “Let’s be realistic: there is not a single Arab country that will give Hamas the political, security, media, and military support that Syria did.  Whether it is Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, or Sudan, they will not allow Hamas to undertake its political activities freely and will not be prepared to jeopardize their relationship with America and Israel for the sake of Hamas.”

Difficult Decision

With regard to the effects the current Syrian situations may have on Hamas, Dr. Waleed Al-Mudalal, a history professor at the Islamic University of Gaza and expert on Islamist movements, stated that leaving Damascus would not be in Hamas’s interest: “Everyone agrees that Hamas was never a tool of the Syrian regime.  However, in my view, if they leave now, Hamas would be portrayed as if it had been a prop for the Syrian regime.  The movement is not involved in the current situation in Syria and should remain that way.  They also should not make statements that may be interpreted in favor of the regime.  Silence in this situation is valuable.”

He believes that Iran is also an important reason that would keep Hamas from departing from Syria: “If they leave, they will lose Iran: the ally that supported them at the time when none of their Arab brethren supported them.  Therefore, I do not recommend that Hamas leave Syria, and I do not see a reason for them to do so, except in one situation: if they are blatantly asked to do so, or if the situations deteriorate to the point of no return.”

The text above is based on Ola Attallah’s Arabic-language article “حماس” في سوريا أمام خيارين..أحلاهما مر
 and its partial English translation (Islam Online, 1 May 2011).  Cf. “[Chaiman of the Hamas Political Bureau Khaled] Meshaal, according to the sources, assured Syria’s leadership that Hamas ‘won’t turn its back to Syria in times of hardship'” (“Hamas Chief in Cairo to Seal Palestinian Reconciliation Deal,” Al-Masry Al-Youm, 2 May 2011).

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