Hamas Gaza chief begins regional tour, to meet Ahmadinejad, Gulf leaders

Al Arabiya News - Saudi - 31 January 2012

The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, left on Monday for a tour of Iran and Gulf states, continuing a diplomatic drive to realign the Palestinian Islamist movement after a year of political change in the Arab world.

The official Qatari News Agency said that Haniyeh had arrived at the Gulf emirate and that his visit will "last several days,” while diplomats said he will leave Doha on Saturday, after leading the main weekly Muslim prayers at noon on Friday.

He will travel to Kuwait, then Bahrain and Iran, diplomats said.

Non-Arab Iran, along with its Arab ally Syria, have been principal backers of Hamas. Iran has supplied funds and -- according to Israel -- weapons to use against the Jewish state.

Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nono said Haniyeh, who travels via Egypt since Israel bars other exits from Gaza, was going to Tehran at the invitation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But he gave no details of the agenda for talks in Tehran, according to Reuters.

The upheavals across the Middle East are obliging the Palestinians and their rival political movements, Hamas and Fatah, to review alliances -- though how Hamas may adjust its strategies, or its stance towards Israel, is far from clear. (...)