Furthermore, China seems out of its depth on the Palestinian issue. While China’s pro-Palestinian position aligns with the majority of Middle Eastern governments, its policy of refusing to call Hamas out for killing civilians inadvertently contradicts its Arab government partners. This is because Beijing’s adamant silence on Hamas elevates the group to the level of the PA as a legitimate representative of the Palestinian cause.

This contradictory position is not a matter of Arab governments saying different things about Hamas in private in contrast to their public statements. Arab states condemned Israel’s targeting of civilians and “flagrant violations of international law” in Gaza. Simultaneously, some Gulf countries—like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, which have signed the Abraham Accords with Israel—condemned Hamas, too. On December 7, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that “the PA and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) are the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people” and should be empowered to govern Gaza after the war. By treating Hamas as an embodiment of the Palestinians and the cause, Beijing is missing the nuances of the conflict. It reflects, among other things, the deficit of experience among its diplomatic cadres on this complicated issue.


Why are most Arab governments against Hamas? I actually thought it was the opposite and that most Arab governments were pro-Hamas, but didn't want to say this, because it didn't want to have a bad relationship with the U.S. and Israel, but it seems like they truly don't like Hamas. Why is that?

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    Arab governments are pro-Palestinian, not pro-Hamas. This distinction is often lost on westerners, but everyone in the ME understands the difference. Dec 17, 2023 at 6:11
  • Do you want a very specific answer to why some Arab governments don't like Hamas, or do you want a more broader and political detailed analysis based on the content you linked to, which is about Chinese policy in the middle-east?
    – sfxedit
    Dec 17, 2023 at 8:39
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    Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Qatar, Yemen, Morocco, Tunisia are Pro-Palestine and Pro-Hamas. UAE, Saudi, Jordon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt are pro-west and pro-Israel. Some others like Oman play in middle. After 7 oct.: UAE, Saudi, Jordon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt are pro-Israel but they pretend that they are worry about Gaza situation. (As you can see, Saudi Arabia shot down Yemeni missiles or Egypt is not willing to open the Rafah crossing).
    – C.F.G
    Dec 17, 2023 at 21:18
  • Speaking in short, because Hamas is an alley of Iran, and they hate Iran, and the reason for this hatred is generally two-fold: one that Iranians are not Arabs, so they are Ajam, and many Arabs in history have sought superiority over Ajams (people not talking in Arabic language, the language Allah has chosen for revelation of Quran) / and the other reason being that the absolute majority of Iranians are Shia Muslims while most Arabs are Sunni Muslims, and there have been groups of Sunni Muslims in history which used to count Shia Muslims as non-believers,
    – owari
    Apr 10 at 6:01

1 Answer 1


One quick hint is its original links to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Hamas was established in 1987, and has its origins in Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement, which had been active in the Gaza Strip since the 1950s and gained influence through a network of mosques and various charitable and social organizations. In the 1980s the Brotherhood emerged as a powerful political factor, challenging the influence of the PLO,3 and in 1987 adopted a more nationalist and activist line under the name of Hamas.3 During the 1990s and early 2000s, the organization conducted numerous suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a group really loathed by Egypt's government and in fact used to justify the re-coup in 2013 by Egypt's military to put Sisi in charge after the Arab Spring takeover.

There were mixed international reactions to the events.[13][14] Most Arab leaders were generally supportive or neutral, with the exception of Qatar and Tunisia who strongly condemned the military's actions. The US avoided describing the action as a coup.

(the irony being, IIRC, that the Muslim Brotherhood wasn't doing that well in governance and were quickly outliving their welcome with the Egyptian public)

Egypt's government is not atypical of other governments of the region: nominally pious, democratically poor and fairly corrupt and inept economically. Whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood would do better in day to day affairs is uncertain, but they have ample grounds to criticize and that scares the governments in question because they have limited legitimacy towards their people.

Or look at the tug of war in popularity between the PA and Hamas: Hamas may suck, but some aspects of it do appeal to large parts of the Arab electorates: their current governments leave much to be desired, so any change is seen as good.

The Middle East is full of tensions between democracy, dictatorship and religious fundamentalism. See also the Algerian Civil War in the 90s. The Syrian Civil War and its antecedents under Assad Senior - the siege of Hama, against the Muslim Brotherhood, in 1982, allegedly 20000+ civilians killed.

As noted in a comment, Hamas' cozy if complex relationship with Iran - the link here is fairly elaborate in its analysis - really doesn't sit well with the most of the Arab governments either.

While in the past Hamas has set aside its allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood and its core Sunni teachings to reach out to Shi’a Iran for tactical support, it may now turn to Tehran to help ensure its very survival in the face of an Israeli military campaign aimed at wiping the group out. Tehran would welcome a stronger partnership with Hamas for utilitarian reasons, as it has long depended on its network in the Arab world to export a distinctly Iranian Islamic revolutionary agenda abroad.

In the Syrian Arab Spring of 2011, Hamas and Tehran parted ways due to the group’s opposition to Iranian-backed President Bashar al-Assad, who was fighting Sunni rebels; and a year later, Hamas relocated its headquarters from Syria to Qatar. But that decision was not final, and for some time, the Palestinian militant group seemingly vacillated on whether to embrace fresh ties with Iran, particularly while most Sunni Arab governments remained opposed to Assad. Illustratively, Hamas political bureau head Ismail Haniyeh traveled to Tehran in early 2012 to meet with Iranian leaders, who insisted on aligning the interests of Palestinian and non-Palestinian militant groups such as Hezbollah.

The threads of Iran’s cooperation with Hamas emerged more clearly in later years. During the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, Gadhafi supported Hezbollah against Israel. But when he was ousted from power in the 2011 Libyan Arab Spring, Tehran confirmed it had secretly forged ties with his opponents to help overthrow him through connections with the Libyan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

That article may be understating their links, but seems more insightful than regurgitating US State Dept's analysises (it is a massive data dump). In any case, any whiff of Tehran is going to be upset regional powers. And, yes, Iran => Persian, rest => Arab. But also, Iran => Shiite, rest => Sunni. Which also affects Hamas - Iran relations. Note that the Muslim Brotherhood however is very much a Sunni affair.

Last... "the West". Hamas is certainly in opposition to "the West". But some Arab governments are seen by some of their population as too Western-leaning (remember Bin Laden's diatribes against Saudi). That's another vulnerability perceived by these governments. The rather complex attitudes of Western countries towards Arab democracy - "well, it has to be the right kind of democracy, you know", muddy those waters even more.

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    As I said elsewhere, I would add that Hamas is viewed as an Iranian proxy - an excuse for Iran (Persians) to meddle in the Arab affairs, by pretending to defend an Arab cause (Palestinians). Dec 17, 2023 at 6:08
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    @RogerV. It is true that Hamas is an Iranian proxy but your reason is wrong. Iran does not pretend to defend the Arab cause, it does this and says it clearly. If they (we) are pretending, then why did Iran destroy ISIS in Syria and Iraq? Secondly, Iran intend is not to meddle (i.e. to create chaos to make things difficult for those who oppose it as US does) in the Arab affairs, their action is what is written in the Muslims holy book: "Help the Muslims who ask you for help".. / If a wise person wants to help someone, he will undoubtedly choose a way that will benefit him/her.
    – C.F.G
    Dec 18, 2023 at 4:31
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    @RogerV. You may ask: But what we see is "meddle in the Arab affairs". Yes, it's almost true, but you can't say go and help him, but don't interfere with someone who oppresses him. Obviously, those who are against your help (which may have some side benefits) will block you in various ways. It has been said since 1400 years ago that some Jews are most hostile towards Muslims and it is obvious that Muslims should be ready against them and those who help them (Saudi, UAE etc.).
    – C.F.G
    Dec 18, 2023 at 5:07
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    @RogerV. It is not an exaggerated claim. it is an accurate fact. Just look at the 18,000 innocent civilians martyred by Israel, or Israel has recently made it lawful to hold dead Palestinians’ bodies and steal their organs. or remember with what cunning (we understand it nowadays) they entered Palestine: "Germans destroyed our families & homes, don't you destroy our hopes"
    – C.F.G
    Dec 18, 2023 at 6:52
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    @RogerV. I didn't say 1400 years of Jewish enmity (i.e. continuous enmity) I said it has been said 1400 years ago. (That happened many times in the history). I limited the Qur'an verse to Muslims, but the Qur'an has said it about "believers". Enmity is not only through killing and war, it is enmity in various fields: usury, porn, war, promotion of corruption, etc. They know that these are sins, but they believe that God will forgive them because they were once the "chosen people." "They were, but in fact God took this title from them.. It is long.
    – C.F.G
    Dec 18, 2023 at 15:31

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