Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal pays first visit to Jordan since 1999
REPORTING FROM RAMALLAH, WEST BANK –- Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal arrived in Jordan on Sunday for an official visit, his first since 1999, ushering in a new era in the Islamist movement’s relationship with a pro-West Arab country.
Analysts said the changes in the Arab world and the rise of Islamist movements in major Arab countries including Egypt has facilitated Meshaal’s visit to Jordan years after a break in relations.
Speaking to reporters after meeting King Abdullah, Meshaal emphasized his movement’s concern for Jordan’s security, stability and interests.
He expressed hoped that his visit would be the beginning of a long relationship that served the interests of Jordan -- where Palestinians are a majority -- and Palestinians everywhere.
Palestinian analyst Nashat Aqtash, an expert on Hamas, ruled out reports that Hamas was looking to relocate from troubled Syria to Jordan. He said that a rise in the power of the Islamic movement in Jordan created the atmosphere needed to mend relations between Jordan and Hamas.
“The doors that were closed in the face of Hamas and the Islamic movements in the Arab countries were opened by the 'Arab Spring,' " Aqtash said from Ramallah. “Even countries such as Jordan, which so far has not witnessed its spring, began to pay attention to the Islamic movements in their countries.”
-- Maher Abukhater
Photo: Jordan's King Abdullah, right, talks with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal at the royal palace in Amman, Jordan, on Sunday. Credit: Yousef Allan / European Pressphoto Agency