The leaders of Hamas living outside the Gaza Strip are desperately searching for a country that will agree to have them. According to a recent report, one country seems prepared to play host to the Hamas leaders: Turkey.
Two senior Hamas officials, Ismail Haniyeh and Saleh Arouri, have already decided to settle in Turkey, apparently after getting the green light to do so from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Three other Hamas officials, Zaher Jabareen, Musa Abu Marzouk and Nizar Awadallah, have also relocated to Turkey, from Qatar and Lebanon respectively.
Haniyeh's wife and children, who are based in the Gaza Strip, are expected to join him in Turkey in the near future.
In recent months, Haniyeh has become a regular visitor to Turkey, where he is warmly received by Erdogan and other senior Turkish officials.
Last month, Haniyeh said that while Hamas has a "strategic relation" with Iran, it also maintains ties with Turkey and several other countries. "We need Arabs and Muslims to stand with us against the Deal of the Century," Haniyeh explained, referring to US President Donald Trump's recently unveiled plan for Middle East peace. "All Palestinian factions are entitled to preserve their strategy. Hamas believes that Palestine is from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea. Hamas will not recognize Israel."
Erdogan's reported willingness to host the Hamas leadership most likely comes from his longstanding support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Erdogan's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood go back to the 1970s, when he was one of the trusted political pupils of Necmettin Erbakan, the father of Islamism in Turkey.
Lorenzo Vidino, director of George Washington University's Program on Extremism, pointed out that since the July 2013 overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi as president of Egypt, Erdogan has sought to provide a safe haven for "persecuted" members of the movement.
The Ahval news website noted, in addition, that the dozens of Muslim Brotherhood figures living in exile today in Turkey are some of the movement's most powerful and influential figures. "These Brotherhood leaders and their relatives live a comfortable life, under the protection of the Erdogan administration, the website revealed.
As Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, Erdogan's reported readiness to welcome its leaders into Turkey comes as no surprise. It seems that Erdogan is trying to help the Muslim Brotherhood extend its influence across more regions while serving as the spiritual leader of the movement.
If the reports about Erdogan's readiness to invite Hamas leaders to live in Turkey are true, that would also turn Erdogan into the spiritual father of a terrorist group that seeks to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamic state.
It now remains to be seen whether the international community, including some Arab countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, demand that Turkey distances itself from Hamas.
A Hamas move to Turkey would mean the terrorist group would continue masterminding and carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel -- but this time, under the protective eyes of the Erdogan administration.