BEIRUT, Lebanon — State television in Syria issued a withering attack late Monday on a longtime ally, the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Khaled Meshal, addressing him as if he were an ungrateful child, saying he was having a “romantic emotional crisis” over the Syrian uprising and accusing him of selling out “resistance for power.”
Turncoat: Khaled Meshal, Hamas leader, in 2009.
The attack was an editorial delivered by a newscaster in alternately stern and mocking tones, who reminded Mr. Meshal that he was “orphaned” by Arab countries who would not take him in when he fled Jordan in 1999. She implied that he must have sold out to Israel, saying that was the only explanation for the willingness of Qatar, his new host, to accept him.
Damascus seemed to be striking back after Mr. Meshal appeared at a congress of the party of Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and after Mr. Erdogan and Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, pointedly declared their shared priorities of opposing Mr. Assad and supporting the Palestinians — a blow to Mr. Assad’s longstanding and domestically compelling persona as the champion of Palestinian resistance against Israel.
...Damascus is most likely particularly furious that Mr. Meshal has taken up residence in Qatar, one of the countries, along with Saudi Arabia and the United States, that it accuses of bankrolling the insurgency.
Syria, Iran, the Lebanese militant group and political party Hezbollah, and Hamas long considered themselves an “axis of resistance,” in contrast to Arab countries — notably Egypt — that pursued a more accommodationist policy with Israel and the United States. But relations in the axis have teetered as some of Syria’s Palestinians have joined the uprising and as some Hamas officials find it impossible not to sympathize with fellow Sunni Muslims in Syria, who form the bulk of the anti-Assad movement and have borne the brunt of Mr. Assad’s brutal crackdown.
A Palestinian resident of Damascus who opposes the government said that as he listened to the broadcast, he felt as if Mr. Assad and his inner circle were speaking to him directly — and revealing the fear behind the presidential facade.
“They freaked out,” the resident, who declined to be publicly identified because of personal safety concerns, said in an interview conducted over Skype. “All the legitimacy they have is based on the resistance — as if when you are the resistance you can kill your own people — and they are losing this.”
But Hezbollah remains a steadfast ally, although it has denied allegations by domestic opponents and the United States that it has aided in Syria’s crackdown. On Tuesday, Hezbollah’s Web site reported that a senior commander in the group, Ali Hussein Nassif, had died carrying out “jihadist duties.” A Lebanese security official told The A.P. that Mr. Nassif had died in Syria. It was unclear whether he had been fighting alongside Syrian forces.
...Nearly 300,000 Syrians have sought sanctuary in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and the United Nations refugee agency has called the outflow a major humanitarian problem that could destabilize the region.
On Tuesday, in a speech to Syria’s Parliament, the country’s prime minister, Wael al-Halki... acknowledged that there were more than 600,000 internally displaced people (the United Nations counts more than double that), blaming “terrorists” for the crisis.
The newscaster who delivered the rebuke to Mr. Meshal also castigated Egypt and Turkey for what she said was their complicity in the Palestinians’ plight...