by Khaled Abu Toameh
The sources said that the Qataris offered hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Jordan in return for allowing Hamas to open offices in the kingdom. By rejecting these requests, King Abdullah has shown that he has no intention to serve as a lifesaver for failed Islamists who are facing growing opposition from their own people in the Gaza Strip.
Jordan's King Abdullah has turned down a request from Hamas to re-open its offices in his country, according to informed sources in Amman.
The sources said that Qatar, one of the few Arab countries that continue to support Hamas, recently asked King Abdullah to allow Hamas to resume its activities in the kingdom.
The Jordanians banned Hamas in 1999 and stripped some of the Islamist movement's leaders, including Khaled Mashal, of their Jordanian citizenship.
Last year, however, relations between Jordan and Hamas seemed to be warming up as Mashal was permitted to visit Amman and hold talks with King Abdullah.
Hamas's hope that Mashal's visit would pave the way for the movement to return to Jordan have now been dashed as the monarch refused to allow the movement and its leaders to resume their activities there.
The sources said that the Qataris offered hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Jordan in return for allowing Hamas to open offices in the kingdom.
"King Abdullah turned down the Qatari offer," the sources said. "Jordan's policy toward Hamas remains unchanged."
The short-lived rapprochement between Hamas and Jordan was apparently linked to the king's fear of the Arab Spring, which saw the rise of Islamists in a number of Arab countries and emboldened the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan.
By inviting Mashal and other Hamas leaders to Jordan last year, King Abdullah was seeking to appease the Muslim Brotherhood, whose supporters were behind a wave of protests demanding reform and an end to corruption in the kingdom.
The downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and growing disillusionment with Islamists throughout the Arab world have given King Abdullah enough confidence to turn his back, once again, on Hamas and their allies in the kingdom.
The removal of President Mohamed Morsi from power has weakened and divided Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood. While some of the organization's leaders have called for reassessing their strategy in the wake of the failure of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, others have come out against King Abdullah for supporting the anti-Morsi "military coup."
The divisions inside Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood are seen as good news for King Abdullah and bad news for Hamas.
Muslim Brotherhood supporters are no longer staging weekly demonstrations throughout the kingdom to demand "reforms and democracy." The Arab Spring had triggered a series of rallies and marches that were organized by the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, prompting many political analysts to predict that that the countdown for regime change in Amman had begun.
At one point, King Abdullah expressed his concern over the Islamists' intentions when, in an interview with the Atlantic magazine, he described the Muslim Brotherhood as "wolves in sheep's clothing" and a "Masonic cult always loyal to their leader."
Hamas, meanwhile, appears to have lost not only their patrons in Egypt, but also their political allies in Jordan. Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip say they are fully aware of the "problems" facing the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan. "We can't rely on their support because they have been affected negatively by the Egyptian crisis," admitted a Hamas representative.
Hamas once had hopes that the Jordanian monarch would be foolish enough to allow the "wolves in sheep's clothing" to set foot in his country.
By rejecting requests to allow Hamas to return to Jordan, King Abdullah has shown that he has no intention to serve as lifesaver for failed Islamists who are facing growing opposition from their own people in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas is in big trouble and there is no reason why the Jordanians should come to the rescue. The downfall of Hamas will in fact serve the interest of the king and many Jordanians, as it will undoubtedly further undermine the Muslim Brotherhood in the kingdom.
Khaled Abu Toameh
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