July 24, 2006

The Iran-Hamas Connection - Why?

I received a question from a viewer asking why would Iran, run by a Shi’a fundamentalist regime, provide money, weapons and training to Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement)? I had indicated in a comment that Iran had provided this support to Hamas.

Good question. Let’s go back to 1992. For a year, Israel had expelled hundreds of senior Hamas leaders to Lebanon. The government of Lebanon, then favorably disposed toward the West, refused to take in the Hamas leaders. Images of the leaders in a makeshift camp on snowy Lebanese hillsides were beamed around the world.

Who came to their aid? Initially, their fellow Muslims assisted them. The Muslims in this part of Lebanon are overwhelmingly Shi’a. It did not take long for them to be contacted by the local Shi’a militia, the Iranian-sponsored and Syrian-backed Party of God – Hizballah. It was through Hizballah that Iran’s Lebanon contingent of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Al-Quds (Jerusalem) force made contact with the Hamas leaders.

Israel allowed the Hamas leaders to return to the occupied territory – mostly in the Gaza Strip – a year later. The bond established between Hamas and the IRGC came with them. Almost immediately, Hamas adopted the Hizballah tactic of suicide bombers and began a program of improved guerrilla tactics, courtesy of Iran.

Bottom line: Why does Iran support a Sunni Palestinian group? Iran's and Hamas’s hatred of Israel outweighs their distrust of each other.