The rise of Yehya Sinwar to lead the Hamas organization in Gaza has been welcomed by Tehran. Javan Online, a hardline outlet, called Sinwar “Israel’s enemy number one in Gaza” and reported that the Israelis see Sinwar new position as a “sign that the militant wing of Hamas is on the rise.” This Iranian outlet claimed that “some believe that Sinwar is the strongest man in Hamas today.” The outlet also reported that due to organizational changes in the body of Hamas, the Palestinian group will soon send a delegation to Tehran to take part in an event on the Palestinian issue organized by the Iranian parliament.
Comment: Iran’s history with Hamas is long and particularly complicated in recent years. The Shiite-dominated Islamist ruling elite in Tehran always viewed its support and close relationship with Hamas as evidence that the Iranian regime is not sectarian and can cooperate with a Sunni Islamist militant organization such as Hamas. However, the decision by the Hamas leadership to abandon the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Tehran’s ally, following the outbreak of the Syrian conflict left the Iranians bitter. Tehran was further angered as Hamas moved closer to Iran’s Arab rivals such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It seems that Tehran now wants to create the perception that after much consideration, the Hamas leadership is once again looking to move closer to Tehran. Tehran claims this is due to internal struggles inside Hamas but also a reflection that developments in the region - including in Syria - are moving in Iran's favor. Whether this Iranian account is true remains to be seen. What is, however, indisputable is that the leadership in Tehran has always looked to incite the most militant of groups among the Palestinians to escalate the conflict with Israel and never has Tehran worked toward a peaceful political settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.