Turkey’s Erdoğan clamping down on Hamas operations - analyst

The Turkish government has begun clamping down on the operations of militant Palestinian group Hamas, including refusal to grant citizenship and long-term visas to its members, Haaretz columnist and international affairs analyst Anshel Pfeffer wrote in The Times on Monday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is placing self-interest first and reassessing his ties with the group, which until recently was warmly embraced by Turkey, Pfeffer said.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel and the United States while Turkey says the group is a legitimate political movement that won power through democratic elections.

The group established an office in Istanbul after the Syrian Civil War forced it to abandon one of its bureaus in Damascus and Turkey has been accused of providing funds and even citizenship to its top officials.

Most recently, in August, Erdoğan hosted two Hamas leaders in Istanbul, in a move that was met with condemnation by Washington.

But last month, Erdoğan said Turkey would like better ties with Israel, with the latter saying there would be no thaw in relations until the military wing of  Hamas in Istanbul was shut down.

"Mr. Erdogan seems to have got that message,’’ the analyst said, with Turkey starting an investigation as part of a clampdown on the group.

The probe, along with the intelligence work of other countries, has "uncovered a web of front organisations being used by the militants in Istanbul, under the cover of Muslim charitable groups supporting students,’’ he said.

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