Qatari visit hands Hamas major victory

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — When the ruler of Qatar arrives in the Gaza Strip today, he will hand the Palestinian territory’s Hamas rulers their biggest diplomatic victory since taking power five years ago.

The first head of state to visit Hamas-controlled Gaza, the emir will deliver more than $250 million in aid, a move that will deepen the Islamic militant group’s control of Gaza and which reflects the rising influence of the Muslim Brotherhood across the region.

The Brotherhood now governs Egypt, and Islamic parties have made gains elsewhere in the region since last year’s popular revolts that became known as the Arab Spring. Qatar has been a key ally of the movement, which includes the Palestinian offshoot Hamas.

The visit by Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani comes over the reservations of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas ousted Abbas’ forces in Gaza during its June 2007 takeover of the territory.

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