Looks like the diplomatic efforts of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi may have paid off. Khaled Mashaal, who ran the recent Hamas war on Israel from the safety of Doha where he has long kept his organization’s worldwide headquarters, got kicked out of Qatar altogether — along with the Muslim Brotherhood. CNN reports that the expelled officials will likely end up in Turkey:
Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal and members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been expelled from Qatar, a Hamas-run news agency reported Tuesday.
The officials are most likely headed to Turkey, the report said.
The move comes after a Saudi-brokered initiative to improve relations between Qatar and Egypt.
Qatar, a US ally, came under fire during the summer for hosting Mashaal and for attempting to intervene diplomatically on their behalf. John Kerry tried to engage Qatar during the war, but Egypt — which controlled the negotiations — cut Qatar out entirely of the talks, humiliating Kerry and making it clear that Hamas would be isolated. Qatar then reportedly demanded that Mashaal continue the war to force Egypt into backing down and allowing their participation, which only extended the eventual humiliation of Hamas in Gaza.
Since that time, the other Sunni Arab nations have allied to fight ISIS, but Qatar had been left in the cold. To rebuild relations with Egypt, Sisi demanded that Qatar stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which would necessarily include its client terrorist network Hamas. Under pressure from other Sunni states, Qatar agreed, and it looks like they were serious about it.
The good news, then, is that Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have become even more isolated. The bad news is their apparent destination: Turkey, a putative US ally and a member of NATO. The Jerusalem Post had reported this week that some MB officials had already been moving to Turkey before the expulsion, and the action by Qatar today has accelerated that process. That does not bode well for Israel-Turkey relations, which have already been on the skids under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and should send up red flags in Washington and Brussels, too. Still, anything that weakens Hamas’ support in the region is good news overall for Israel — and probably for Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah too.
Update: Hamas has denied that they have been kicked out of Qatar:
Izzat Rishq, a top aide to Mashaal, said the claim, initially reported by CNN citing an unnamed Hamas news agency, was wrong.
Rishq said: “There is no basis of truth about brother Khaled Mashaal leaving Doha. We are in Doha now.”
Hamas spokesman Hossam Badran in Qatar also told the AP the report was false.
Qatar’s government has not yet responded, however.