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Hamas leaders set to move from Qatar to Baghdad, Iraq amid mounting pressure – report

Iranian security personnel to handle protection of leaders and offices in Baghdad

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh speaking at the opening of a new mosque in Rafah, in southern Gaza, Feb. 24, 2017. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The political leadership of the terror organization Hamas has decided to move its headquarters from Qatar to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad in the near future, Emirati news outlet "The National" reported on Monday.

While no date has been set for the move yet, it was reportedly agreed upon last month when Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Iraq and met with Iraqi and Iranian officials.

The National said they received confirmation of the report from a senior Iraqi (MP) Member of Parliament and the leader of a political party with close ties to an Iran-backed militia.

While Hamas’ move to Iraq was also confirmed in a phone call between Haniyeh and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani, a senior Iraqi MP told the news site that not all Iraqi factions are happy about it.

“There is no consensus among Iraqi political groups on Hamas’s move to Baghdad,” the Iraqi MP said.

“Some, especially the Kurds and some Sunnis, fear it will deepen differences with the United States. But despite the lack of consensus, the government’s decision to host Hamas will not be reversed.”

While Iraq would be the official host of Hamas’ leadership, their leaders and teams, and the offices will reportedly be protected by Iranian security personnel, most likely with the involvement of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Hamas terror group has already opened a political office in the capital under the leadership of a senior official, sent security and logistics teams to oversee preparations, and will open a media office in the coming weeks, according to the report.

The Iraqi government did not respond to a request for comment, The National stated.

Hamas leadership has been based in Qatar for the past few years, after moving there from Syria.

According to reports, it will retain a representation in Doha to manage relations with Qatar – one of its major funding partners – and is expected to play a significant role in Gaza's reconstruction after the war.

Over the past several months, the U.S. has increased pressure on Qatar – designated a major non-NATO ally by the U.S. – to force Hamas to accept a hostage deal and to expel the Hamas leadership.

There have been additional reports that Israel might plan to assassinate Hamas leaders in the Gulf country, despite it being a major mediator in the hostage negotiations.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied reports that he reassured Qatar the IDF would not assassinate Hamas leaders in the Gulf country.

“I instructed the Mossad to act against the Hamas leaders,” the Israeli prime minister emphasized.

In April, The Wall Street Journal reported that Hamas was in negotiations about a move with Oman and another country while its leadership visited Turkey and was warmly welcomed by its President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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