Hamas leader visits Iran after outreach to Gulf

February 10, 2012 - 12:15 PM
Mideast Gulf Shifting Hamas

FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 file photo, Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh speaks to the press after Friday prayers, in Gaza City. Even as Qatar was helping mediate a unity accord with rival Palestinian factions, the prime minister of Hamas-ruled Gaza was leading his own tour through wealthy Gulf states. His tone was far more like a CEO than anti-Israel firebrand: meeting Gulf rulers and investment groups about pumping money into struggling Gaza. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh wrapped up a three-nation Gulf trip Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait that included talks on potential investments in areas such as housing, road building agricultural in Gaza. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa, File)

TEHRAN (AP) — An Iranian semiofficial news agency reports that the Hamas prime minister of Gaza has arrived in Tehran. The visit may be an attempt by the Palestinian militant movement to avoid snubbing Iran even as it cultivates ties with the wealthy Gulf.

The Friday report by Fars says Ismail Haniyeh will meet Iranian leaders, despite what the agency claimed were efforts by Gulf countries like Qatar and Kuwait to stop the visit.

Some in Hamas want to be part of the broader Islamist political rise triggered by last year's Arab Spring uprisings. For this, Hamas needs new friends among Gulf states at odds with Iran.

But others in the movement may wish to maintain the relationship with Tehran, which helped Hamas when it had few friends in the Arab world.