Hamas leader heading to Iran

Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip, will visit Iran.

Haniyeh is going to Tehran at the invitation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid reports that relations between Hamas and Iran have soured because of Hamas’ failure to publicly support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on pro-democracy forces.

Last month, Haniyeh visited Egypt, Turkey, Sudan and Tunisia as part of Hamas’ bid to identify with the popular protests that have swept the region and consolidate Muslim support.

Khaled Mashaal, Hamas’ exiled leader, met Jan. 29 with Jordan’s King Abdullah.

Hamas wants to re-establish its base in Jordan, but officials told Mashaal that was not going to happen, the Associated Press reported. Jordan banned the group six years ago for illicit activities, including storing a weapons cache. — jta