Egypt recently made the unusual decision to allow the head of the Hamas politburo, Ismail Haniyeh, to travel abroad. On Tuesday he was in Turkey, from where he is expected to travel to Qatar—these two countries being Hamas’s most reliable supporters—and then to Russia and Malaysia. Hamas’s other major patron, Iran, is conspicuously not on the itinerary. Shahar Klaiman speculates about the reasons for Cairo’s decision:
Russia was in favor of Egypt’s allowing Haniyeh to travel, having invited a Hamas delegation to visit in order to discuss reconciliation between it and Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, and Egypt wanted to please the Kremlin.
[Another] reason why Egypt allowed Haniyeh to take his trip lay in the realization that Hamas would never be able to make any breakthroughs in the region in light of Arab nations’ increasing openness toward normalizing relations with Israel, even if only behind the scenes. Therefore Egypt thought that Hamas would opt not to visit Iran so as not to arouse the ire of the Arab countries, [which are already growing increasingly hostile to the terrorist group].
Some Palestinians think that Hamas wants to preserve its foreign relations and even develop them, by having Arab and Muslim countries assist in various initiatives, due to the increased blockade measures on the Gaza Strip following the destruction of most of Hamas’s smuggling tunnels on the border. . . . Aside from the political benefits of his tour, Haniyeh is hoping to drum up funds for his organization, even if they are only temporary.