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Inerview: Iran Supports Hamas, but Hamas Is No Iranian 'Puppet'

Council on Foreign Relations

Interviewee: Karim Sadjadpour, Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR.org

January 8, 2009

Karim Sadjadpour, a leading researcher on Iran, who served in Iran for four years for the International Crisis Group, says that even though Iran is a major funder for Hamas, it does not seem to have direct control over the Palestinian group. "Hamas is certainly not an Iranian puppet," he says. "They weren't created by Iran but at the same time, if you take Iranian rhetoric at face value, there's certainly a great deal of Iranian support for Hamas," including funding which Hamas may use to buy rockets and other materials through underground channels. He says that the Iranian revolutionary leadership, including the present leaders, are virulently anti-Israel, and if the Obama administration is seeking a dialogue with Iran, it would be wise to not start with Israeli-Palestinian issues.

With the current conflict between Israel and Hamas now into its second week, there's much said about Hamas's relationship with Iran. Israel and its supporters describe Hamas as almost an agent for Iran and some Iran experts, particularly in the West, deny this and say that while Iran may support Hamas rhetorically, it really doesn't have much control over it. Where is the truth as you see it?

The evidence is incredibly nebulous, and I think the confusion is due in part to Iran's own policies and rhetoric. Some days Iran likes to claim that Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad are indigenous independent forces which merely receive "moral support" from Iran. Then on other days, Iran likes to brag that the road to peace in the Middle East must go through Tehran and that Iran has great leverage over these very same groups.

Read the rest of this article on the cfr.org website.

Copyright 2009 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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