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Erdoan says Hamas unlikely to leave Qatar

Erdoan says Hamas unlikely to leave Qatar


Following reports that Hamas is seeking a new site because Qatar no longer wants to host them, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan said he did not think the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, would take such a step, local media reported on Tuesday.

Erdoan answered questions from journalists aboard the plane on Tuesday upon his return from Iraq.

He was asked about recent reports that Hamas members are under serious pressure and are seeking a new location to move their headquarters from Qatar, including Turkey.

The president said he had no information about such a move by Qatar and considered it unlikely that Hamas would move its main political office from Qatar after more than a decade there.

I have not heard of a decision by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who would ignore [Hamas] position in Qatar. I don't think he will take such a step either, he said.

Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyeh, have lived in Qatar since 2012.

On April 19, United Arab Emirates-based Sky News Arabia reported that Hamas leaders had suggested that Iran or Turkey could be the group's next headquarters.

The Wall Street Journal reported on April 20, citing Arab officials, that Hamas had recently contacted at least two countries in the region, one of them Oman, to ask if they would be open to the idea to see its political leaders settle in their capitals.

Arab officials also told the WSJ that Hamas believed the slow hostage negotiations could last for months, endangering the group's close ties to Qatar and its presence in Doha.

Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said last week that he was reassessing the country's role as mediator between Israel and Hamas.

Sheikh Mohammed said Doha had been exploited and abused and was being undermined by those trying to score political points, adding that the ongoing peace talks were in a “delicate phase”.

Following the prime minister's statement, Erdoan sent Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan to Doha on Wednesday, a further sign that he wants to play a mediating role.

Hamas has had an office in Turkey since 2011, when Turkey helped secure the deal allowing the group to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Erdoan has maintained ties with Haniyeh, who is a frequent visitor.

The first meeting between the Turkish president and a Hamas delegation led by Haniyeh since the start of the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip was held on Saturday in Istanbul.

Erdoan discussed efforts to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza and achieve just and lasting peace in the region.

Haniyeh's visit to Turkey took place three days after his meeting with Minister Fidan in Doha.

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