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Iran Reportedly Ends Support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad
by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi • Jul 7, 2015 at 11:19 am
Over the years, Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ] has been one of the main Sunni terrorist groups in the region supported by Iran, in keeping with the image of 'muqawama' ('resistance') to the pro-Western axis in the Middle East represented foremost in Saudi Arabia and Israel. One key place of liaison between PIJ and Iran has been Lebanon, where PIJ has maintained a notable presence in Palestinian refugee camps such as al-Jalil in the Hezbollah stronghold of Baalbek in the Beqaa Valley.
However, the ties between PIJ and Iran now appear to be in doubt as Iran has reportedly cut off financial support for PIJ on account of PIJ differences with Iran on regional issues in accordance with its identity as a Sunni Islamist movement. The most significant disagreement as of late appears to have been the Yemen issue, which reflects more than ever a Sunni-Shi'a sectarian divide by group on the issue, with broad support on the former side for the Saudi-led intervention as a necessity against Iranian expansionism, while Shi'a of all stripes (not just those backed by Iran) oppose the intervention.
The souring of relations between PIJ and Iran has also "become evident in the fact that the PIJ secretary general, Dr. Ramadan Sheleh, and his deputy, Ziyad al-Nakhala, did not attend the iftar set up by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Dahiyeh, southern Beirut." Dahiyeh, it should be noted, is another major Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon.
Should the apparent rift between PIJ and Iran be long-lasting, it seems most likely that Iran will instead focus more effort on continuing to cultivate Harakat al-Sabireen, which appears to be a minor crypto-Shi'a 'resistance' group in the Palestinian territories using Hezbollah and Iranian image.
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