Saud Abu Ramadan
January 30, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The historic visit of Islamic Hamas movement supreme leader Khaled Meshaal on Sunday to Jordan, in the company of Qatar's prince, carries huge significance to the changing Arab world. Observers are speculating whether Hamas would move its headquarters from Syria's Damascus to another Arab capital.

Earlier this week, Hamas leaders denied such allegations. However, Analysts say the reality on the ground shows otherwise.

Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press statement emailed to reporters that "there have been no changes to the movement's headquarters in Syria and Hamas office still operates in Damascus."

The statement added that Meshaal's tour aims at reconciliation with the kingdom and gaining support for the Palestinian cause.

Meshaal, born in 1956, is originally from the village of Silwad near the West Bank city of Ramallah, which his family left during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and moved to Kuwait. He later joined the Muslim Brotherhood Movement and now holds a Jordanian passport.


Mustafa Sawaf, a political analyst closed to Hamas in Gaza told Xinhua that the timing of Meshaal's visit to Amman on Sunday "is the first step to correct the track of their relationship, which was hard hit when the Hamas bureau in Amman was shut down in 1996. "

Hamas had then moved to Damascus and also gained the support of Iran, a strong ally. However, nobody thinks that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would accept to receive Meshaal again after he met with officials from Syria's enemies, Jordan and Qatar.

Security has seriously deteriorated in Syria since early last year when revolting Syrians started to demand a change of regime.

"I don't think that Meshaal's visit to Jordan has anything to do with leaving Syria ... because there are still many other Hamas leaders in Damascus," said Sawaf, adding that "if Hamas intends to leave Syria, it would officially announce it."

According to Sawaf, Meshaal was only obliged by the security situation to be away from Damascus temporarily.


Hamas leaders recognize Qatar's mediating role when Jordan decided to close down its bureau in Amman. Now, Qatar is again making efforts toward a revival of ties between the Islamic movement and the Kingdom.

"I believe that Qatar is trying to play an important role in the region," said Sawaf, referring to the pressure it mounted on Syria over its domestic violence.

Jordan, the analyst noted, is also trying to play an important role in the region. The kingdom has hosted six meeting of exploratory talks between Israel and the Palestinians in an attempt to restarted the stalled peace talks, though the efforts turned out to be futile.

However, despite Jordan's reconciliation with Hamas, whether the movement is to re-open its bureau in Amman remains unclear.

Khalil Shahin, a West Bank-based political analyst told Xinhua that the visit of Meshaal to Amman is to the interests for both Hamas and Jordan.

Hamas believes improved ties with Jordan, which plays an important role, would boost its relationship with the international community, he said.

"Jordan also benefits from renewing ties with Hamas," said Shahin, explaining that the kingdom is seeking regional influence and believes improved ties with Hamas would serve its interests and also help to win over Islamist supporters.


Although Hamas claimed to the media that it will stay in Syria, many observers think otherwise, citing security disadvantages in the country.

Well-informed Palestinian sources closed to Hamas told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that it is very likely that Hamas would move its headquarters.

"I believe that Hamas has to move its bureau, even temporarily, to either Amman or to Doha," said the sources, adding that "Hamas has to be honest and tell the Palestinians that staying in Syria under the current circumstances is mission impossible."

Shahin said that several Hamas leaders have hinted that they have other choices concerning the presence of the movement abroad and the visit of Meshaal to Jordan and Ismail Haneya, Hamas Gaza chief, to Qatar only aims at ending tensions with those countries.


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