News / Middle East

    Hamas Chief Meshaal Says He Will Step Down

    In this photo provided Nov. 24, 2011 by the office of Khaled Meshaal, Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are seen together during a meeting in Cairo, Egypt. In this photo provided Nov. 24, 2011 by the office of Khaled Meshaal, Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are seen together during a meeting in Cairo, Egypt.
    x
    In this photo provided Nov. 24, 2011 by the office of Khaled Meshaal, Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are seen together during a meeting in Cairo, Egypt.
    In this photo provided Nov. 24, 2011 by the office of Khaled Meshaal, Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are seen together during a meeting in Cairo, Egypt.
    VOA News
    Senior Hamas officials say the group's leader-in-exile, Khaled Meshaal, has decided to step down, clearing the way for the movement to choose a new head for the first time in nearly 16 years.
     
    Meshaal aide Izzat Risheq said Monday that Meshaal told a Hamas leadership meeting in Cairo last week that he will not run in upcoming elections for the top position. Moussa Abu Marzouk, Meshaal's deputy, also confirmed the decision.
     
    Meshaal and other Hamas officials have made no public comment on his future leadership or on the Cairo meeting.
     
    Earlier this year, Meshaal angered Hamas' Gaza-based leadership by agreeing that its main rival, the Fatah movement of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, could lead any future unity government.
     
    Egypt has brokered a reconciliation pact between Hamas and Fatah, which fought a brief civil war in 2007 that left the Islamist group in control of the Gaza Strip and Abbas in charge of the West Bank. But the two factions have not been able to reconcile and the pact has not been implemented.
     
    Meshaal also has voiced what critics in Hamas saw as approval for Abbas's now-stalled talks with Israel, saying in 2011 that 20 years after a 1991 international Middle East conference, Palestinians were willing to give peace another chance.
     
    A diplomatic source in the region said that Meshaal has "grown impatient with some of his Gaza officials" who have attempted to undermine his decisions in recent months.
     
    Meshaal will remain in his post until a new leader is chosen, most likely by the end of the year.
     
    The exiled chief has led Hamas since 1996. Under his leadership, the group carried out numerous suicide bombings and other attacks that killed hundreds of Israelis during a Palestinian uprising a decade ago. He also survived an Israeli assassination attack in 1997. Hamas has been branded a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the EU.
     
    Forging an alliance with Iran and Syria, where the group has maintained its headquarters, it also has become an important regional political player. The group swept Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.
     
    While a successor for Meshaal has not been named, the two leading candidates are Abu Marzouk, who led Hamas in the 1990s until he was imprisoned in the U.S. for two years, and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
     
    Both men support closer relations with Arab countries and Europe, while adhering to Hamas's policy of refusing Western demands to recognize Israel's right to exist.

    You May Like

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora