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Turkish FM: Hamas Leader Welcome to Relocate in Turkey

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The Associated Press has reported that Turkey’s foreign minister says that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is “free to come” to Turkey in the event that he is kicked out of Qatar. Although Mevlut Cavusoglu said he has no indication that Mashaal will be relocating, the minister said, “"Regardless of which country they belong to people are free to come and go to Turkey as they wish, as long as there are no legal impediments."

The minister also indicated that he has not received any request from Mashaal for the re-location.

Yesterday, Turkish newspaper reported that Qatar, under international pressure to stop supporting terrorism, may be expelling Mashaal. Hamas and Qatar both denied the report.

Turkey, despite being a U.S. ally and member of NATO, has been the top financial sponsor of Hamas since 2012, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arranging for the transfer of $250 million to the terrorist group annually, according to a report citing Israeli intelligence. Another report puts the figure at $300 million.

The funding comes from private sources that Erdogan is close to and not from Turkey's governmental budget. Turkey is also said to have trained Hamas security forces in Gaza through non-governmental groups.

The report said that Turkey coordinates the fundraising with Qatar, another supposed U.S. ally. Members of Congress have asked Qatar to stop financing Hamas. The U.S. blocked a $400 million aid package from Qatar to pay 44,000 employees of the Hamas government in Gaza.

Last summer’s missile attacks on Israel by Hamas were preceded by the kidnapping and execution of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank by Hamas operatives. The Hamas leader urging kidnappings of Israelis in the West Bank is named Saleh al-Arouri, who is based and operates from Turkey.

Although the reports of Mashaal's relocation have been denied, Asharq al-Awsat, a Saudi newspaper based in London reported on Jan.7, 2015, that Qatar had told Mashaal to keep a low-profile and stop any public activities.

Qatar is in the midst of forging a reconciliation with Egypt, which greatly depends on the Gulf country ceasing from supporting terrorism as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian Preident Abdel Fattah El-Sisi's nemesis.

Hamas is the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar recently told a number of Brotherhood members to leave the country, according to the Saudi paper.

 

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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