Hamas PM salutes ´heroic´ Syrians (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) By Samer al-Atrush 02/24/12)
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Gaza premier Ismail Haniya on Friday hailed the "heroic" Syrian
struggle for democracy during a rally in Cairo, in the first
expression of support of the uprising by a Hamas leader.
"I salute all the people of the Arab Spring, or rather the Islamic
Winter," Haniya told thousands of cheering people during the
demonstration of support for Palestinians and Syrians at Cairo´s Al-
"I salute the heroic Syrian people, who are striving for freedom,
democracy and reform," he added.
"No Iran, no Hezbollah. Syria is Islamic," chanted the protesters, in
an apparent reference to the Syrian regime´s Shiite Muslim supporters.
Until now, the Hamas political leadership has refused to criticise
President Bashar Al-Assad´s crackdown on an 11-month long uprising,
even when Assad´s forces targeted a Palestinian refugee camp.
The Islamist movement´s politburo has been based in Damascus, but it
is reportedly leaving Syria -- its main backer along with Iran -- as
Assad´s regime faces growing Arab isolation.
In January, its leadership denied it was relocating its headquarters,
but politburo members are believed to be setting up office in several
Politburo member Imad al-Alami returned with his family through the
Rafah border post with Egypt this month, after an absence of 23 years.
Hamas did not give a reason for his return.
Its silence on Assad´s crackdown, especially after the Ramel refugee
camp came under attack in August, was seen as an embarrassment, as a
rival leader in the Palestine Liberation Organisation denounced the
Hamas was credited with playing a role in an Arab League plan to send
observers to Syria in a now aborted monitoring mission.
Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi had said in January that Hamas chief
Khaled Meshaal carried a letter from him to Syria asking it to end
Syria still enjoys the support of smaller Palestinian factions based
in Damascus, and the powerful Lebanese Hezbollah movement.
Earlier this month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah defended Assad,
saying he believed the president was intent on carrying out reforms,
and suggested he was the victim of a plot that would serve Israel.
Support from Iran and Hezbollah to Assad, himself from a minority
Alawite family, has infused a sectarian tone among both his
supporters and opponents.
On Friday, about 25 Egyptians and Syrians gathered outside the low-
level Iranian diplomatic mission in Cairo with anti-Shiite posters,
condemning its government for supporting Assad.
"God exalt the Sunnis and humiliate the Shiites," said the caption of
one poster with a picture of Saudi King Abdullah, whose ultra-
orthodox Sunni monarchy vehemently opposes Iran.
Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Iran after its 1979 Islamic
revolution. (Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse. 02/24/12)
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