Iran has moved away from its strategy of supporting Hamas to disrupt the peace process as Iran abandoned efforts to winover broader Arab public
Iran forged its relationship with Hamas in the early 1990s in an effort to gain credibility with the Arab public and disrupt the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.28 “In the longterm, Iran sees the Palestinians as essential for regional acceptance of Iran's Middle East presence,” then-Charge d’Affaires Stephen Seche noted in a 2006 cable from the U.S. embassy in Damascus.29 Before the Arab Spring, Iran was sending more than $100 million annually to Hamas, as well as Iranian-made missiles.30 But threats to Iran’s immediate sphere of influence have complicated its relations with the group and forced Tehran to deemphasize long-term efforts to build support in the broader (mostly Sunni) Arab world.
The Syrian civil war has strained the Iran-Hamas alliance, both politically and financially. As the Assad regime’s merciless campaign against its own people escalated, Hamas found it increasingly difficult to maintain its credibility with its majority Sunni constituency while relying on largesse from Iran and Syria. In February 2012, Hamas decamped from its headquarters in Damascus – possibly abandoning significant financial assets in the process. Tehran responded by slashing its aid to the group.31 As Iran has abandoned its efforts to make inroads with the broader Arab public and turned inwards to focus on protecting its partners in Iraq and Syria, the utility of supporting Hamas has decreased. Though Iran is believed to still provide some support to Hamas, it has allowed its influence and patronage to be supplanted by Qatar and Turkey, which have aligned themselves with Sunni political Islamist movements around the region and are competing against Iran’s interests in Syria.
Iran has a long history of supporting terrorist proxies and promoting an aggressive foreign policy that has caused instability in the region. However, we should be careful not to overstate the impact or threat from their regional ambitions as they have had limited success in spreading their revolutionary ideology. Additionally, recent instability in Iran's traditional spheres of influence (ex. ISIS and Syria), is forcing them to refocus their efforts and reduce funding for other activities.