Most probably worthy of “picture of the week” was Foreign Minister Zarif hugging Hezbollah deputy secretary general Naim Kassem, twitted by Hassan Dai with the title “Goodfellas”. No surprise that Iran loves the Hezbollah and supports them. After all, the Hezbollah is their proxy group. What was more illuminating – the revelation that the so called moderate leadership, like Foreign Minister Zarif, who on the one hand portrays himself as a moderate, extends his hand with a smile to world leaders as a moderate and receives global respect as a moderate, while on the other hand hugs the Hezbollah openly. The same Hezbollah with its hands deep in drug smuggling, regional destabilization and global terrorism.
The more revealing events are the warming up of relations between Iran and the Hamas. Several media outlets and analysts picked up on this.
The hosting of the Hamas delegation at the Rouhani inauguration was a definite sign of further warming up of relations. As reported in al-monitor, the delegation received high ranking meetings, including a meeting with the Supreme Leader’s foreign policy advisor Velayati (first since 1991), Foreign Minister Zarif, Parliamentary speaker Larijani and the Chairman of the Strategic Council for Iranian Foreign Policy Kharazi. The Hamas proudly displayed the pictures from the visit.
The relations between Hamas and Iran reached low levels due to the fact that they both found themselves on opposing sides in the Syrian conflict. At the time, the split and its ramifications were reported extensively (see for instance nytimes). Since then, several attempts have been made to repair.
The al-monitor connected the warming up of relations between Hamas and Iran to the “Qatar-Gulf crisis” (reference to the break between Qatar and the Saudi block). Part of the list of demands issued by the Saudi block for restoration of ties was a scaling down of diplomatic ties with Iran, and the issue of relations with the Hamas. As reported in aljazeera, the Saudi Foreign Minister called on Qatar to stop supporting the Hamas. The claim being that the Qatar-Gulf crisis served as a powerful motivation for Iran to renew relations with the Hamas, in defiance of the Saudi demands. So also theatlantic, in an article already in mid-June, predicted that the Qatar crisis will push Hamas back to Iran. In a separate al-monitor article, the change of Hamas leadership can also be seen as a precipitation for renewed relations between Iran and the Hamas.
So, it would seem that Iran and the Hamas are closing ranks, in defiance of the Qatar-Gulf crisis. The point not highlighted enough is the Iranian alliance with an additional radical group opposing any peace in the Middle East. Not in line with the “moderation” expected from the nuclear deal.