The Obama administration’s attempt to allow a political office for the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas in Qatar could now be viewed as a strategic misstep, according to foreign policy experts.
In 2012, the Obama administration reportedly allowed Hamas’ political bureau to open an office in Doha, Qatar, despite the group being viewed by the US and other Western countries as an international terrorist organization. The US hoped that allowing the bureau to open in Qatar, a US ally, would de-escalate violence in the region and create space for renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
However, this plan has backfired, foreign policy experts say, and may have actually strengthened Hamas’ reach in the Middle East. Hamas now reportedly cooperates closely with Iran, a country which is seen as an enemy of the US and of Israel.
In addition, the transfer of money and military weapons from Iran to Hamas through Qatar has increased significantly, resulting in Hamas having more power than it had in 2012 when the Obama administration made its decision.
Moreover, the presence of Hamas in Qatar may have led to increased support for the group among Qataris. The US has now realized that its strategy to use Qatar as a means of controlling Hamas has failed.
Given the current instability in the region, it appears that the Obama administration’s decision to allow a political office for Hamas to open in Qatar was misguided. Instead of helping to de-escalate the conflict, it may have inadvertently made it worse. The US should consider revising its stance on Hamas and consider more effective strategies for containing it.