Hamas – The Journey from Doha to Baghdad


The Islamic Resistance Movement, also known as Hamas, whose origins go back to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, has gone through various political transitions, and many stations since its inception in the 1980s.

The organization’s leaders have sought refuge and carried out political activities in various countries, including Egypt, Jordan, and Syria before they were restricted and forced to find alternative hosts due to the internal political conflicts the movement caused, and the negative impact on the diplomatic relations of those countries.

In more recent years, and due to the dual influence of both Tehran and the Muslim Brotherhood Movement, Hamas leadership has found a secure base and favorable conditions in the Qatari capital, Doha. Since then, Doha has played a significant role in reshaping the strategic structure of Hamas and the increased influence that Hamas exerted over its political rivals and comparable factions simultaneously.

Furthermore, in recent years, Doha has established a direct connection between Hamas and the Iranian regime in Tehran. This direct link bypasses regional intermediaries and proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and instead connects Hamas directly to the core of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s leadership.

However, Doha has been facing significant pressure from both Tel Aviv and Washington, particularly in the aftermath of the massacre carried out by Hamas and led by the Al-Qasim Brigades, the military wing of the movement.

Houthi groups in Yemen extended an invitation to the leaders of the Hamas movement to relocate to Yemen. This invitation came at a time when Qatar is facing significant international pressure for hosting and sponsoring Hamas leadership and other controversial radical factions.

Nevertheless, reliable sources have verified that Tehran instructed its allies in Baghdad to ensure the provision of comprehensive care and all essential requisites for hosting the leaders of the Hamas movement and their families. This specifically includes individuals such as Khaled Meshaal, Ismail Haniyeh, and others to be accommodated in one of Baghdad’s suburbs. The objective is to establish suitable conditions for the movement’s leadership to carry out political activities within their designated space in Baghdad under direct supervision and meticulous coordination with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s proxies in Baghdad.

The relocation of Hamas to Baghdad is part of an Iranian initiative designed to safeguard the unity of the movement, which is at risk of fragmenting into factions aligned with various regional actors and Arab capitals. This concern has intensified amidst the current crisis situation resulting from the Gaza conflict. Hence, the Iranians are strategically aiming to uphold and enhance their influence within the movement, capitalizing on its widespread popularity and roots in the Muslim Brotherhood. This move serves as a means for Iran to leverage the movement’s standing in the Arab public sphere and exploit it in their broader plans that target Arab countries in the region, particularly those countries that still maintain an Arab national character and are characterized by regional and international political balance, such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

However, it is crucial to emphasize several significant factors, with the foremost being the overwhelming dominance of Iranian influence over the decision-making process within Hamas. This influence has resulted in the exclusive control of Yahya Al-Sinwar, who enjoys strong backing from Tehran. The leadership of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has played a pivotal role in shaping the future trajectory of Hamas, solidifying their internal monopoly over the movement through Yahya Al-Sinwar.

It is also important to highlight that the recent round of negotiations between Hamas and Israel, mediated by Qatar, revealed the limited influence of the Hamas leaders who reside in Doha. This applies both to their ability to shape the internal dynamics within the organization and their influence in the Gaza Strip. This weakness is particularly evident due to Yahya Al-Sinwar’s continued reliance on Iran and its axis to influence the situation on the ground in Gaza. Iran’s firm rejection of a ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip, along with their constant threats towards Hamas leaders in exile, warning them against engaging in mediation efforts, has prompted these leaders to seek alternative residences within Tehran’s sphere of influence. This move aims to preserve the alliance and support between the Qatari capital and the Muslim Brotherhood, which are considered the foundational pillars of Hamas’ intellectual and ideological roots.

As experts examine the implications of Hamas leaders relocating to the Iraqi capital, it is evident that while this move may alleviate the burden on Qatar, it will also result in a significant loss of influence within the Hamas movement. However, it is crucial to recognize the potential consequences of Hamas leaders operating in a tumultuous environment such as Iraq. This environment is characterized by the presence of militias and political parties with ties to Iran. Furthermore, the involvement of Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces in supporting these groups may pose a substantial security threat not only to the region’s stability but also to countries like Jordan and Israel. This move has the potential to further strengthen the network of Iranian proxies and militias sponsored by the IRGC, effectively encircling the region, especially with Iranian proxies operating in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.

The relocation of the movement to Iraq, along with its leaders, raises concerns about the potential establishment of training camps for its fighters. These camps may be situated on the outskirts of Baghdad and receive Iranian protection, which further escalates tensions. It seems that the decision to resettle has gained approval from Shiite forces under pressure from Iran, increasing the likelihood that it was made under international pressure. This puts Iraq at odds with the discontent and opposition of American and Western countries towards the resettlement. Additionally, this decision poses serious repercussions for Iraq’s already compromised sovereignty, as it makes Iraqi forces and selected targets susceptible to Israeli strikes on the movement’s sites, and eventually undermining decades worth of U.S. and international efforts to maintain minimum stability in a turbulent region.

The relocation of Hamas’s leadership was not taken hastily. Instead, it was preceded by meetings that took place during a visit by a Hamas delegation to Baghdad in October of the previous year. These meetings were arranged upon invitation from the Iraqi armed Shiite groups, also known as the axis of resistance. The five-member delegation, led by Hamas leader Osama Hamdan, was accompanied by Muhammad Al-Hafi from the Office of Arab and Islamic Relations in the Palestinian Movement. It is important to mention that Muhammad Al-Hafi, who has ties to the Iranian Quds Force, is the leading candidate to assume leadership of the movement in Iraq.

Additionally, reliable sources, within the Operations Command in Anbar – Joint Ops Division, have confirmed that Brigadier-General Ahmed Ali Koudarzi, the commander of the Iranian border guard forces, alongside the intelligence surveillance unit associated with the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, has successfully conducted a reconnaissance operation on the periphery of the Iraqi-Jordanian border. The objective was to assess the security framework of the Jordanian Armed Forces and the preparedness of the Royal Badia Forces (Jordanian Desert Forces), which is entrusted with safeguarding the border regions of Jordan.

It appears evident that these actions have the objective of instigating chaos and causing security uncertainty. This is not confined to a particular geographical region, but rather spans across borders and is geared towards targeting multiple locations in the region simultaneously.

It is of utmost importance for both the U.S. national security apparatus and any future U.S. administration to thoroughly evaluate the escalating threat posed by Iran’s strategic territorial dominance. This assessment should also consider the implications of the past two decades of lenient foreign policy towards Iran, as well as the distribution and ambitions of Iran’s prominent proxies throughout the Middle East and North Africa. These developments have taken place without encountering any significant deterrence or confrontation. Consequently, the Iranian regime has been able to persistently cultivate and recruit armed factions in geopolitically strategic locations, while expanding its proxy network to gain control over crucial areas via land, sea, and air.