Skip to main content

Exclusive: Zahar Rebuilds Ties Between Hamas and Iran

Mahmoud al-Zahar is planning his comeback in the Hamas leadership, with the backing of Tehran and the Hamas armed wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. 
Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar burns Israeli flags in Gaza city in preparation for the movement's 23rd anniversary next week December 9, 2010. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS ANNIVERSARY CIVIL UNREST) - RTXVKMR

Mahmoud al-Zahar was forced off the Hamas Shura Council, which administers the organization, in April 2013. In recent elections for the council, which ended on March 2013, Khaled Meshaal, the head of the movement’s political bureau, did everything he could to be elected for a third term, but he also invested the same effort to ensure that Zahar, his rival from Gaza, would be left out.

Zahar launched a vehement attack against Meshaal last year for adopting what he described as a conciliatory policy, without first consulting with the Hamas leadership. The two issues that set off Zahar were Meshaal’s decision, made with the support of the departing Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, to reconcile with Fatah and form a national unity government, and, even more troubling as far as Zahar was concerned, Meshaal’s declaration that Hamas would abandon the armed struggle (jihad) in favor of a nonviolent popular uprising.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.