Fatah Militias Prepare for War with Israel and/or Revolt against Mahmoud Abbas

Oct. 26 2016

While Mahmoud Abbas’s faction of the PLO has, by and large, refrained from attacks on Israelis in the past several years, there are now signs that that is about to change, even as some Fatah elements have split off in loathing for the PA president himself. Khaled Abu Toameh writes:

The armed wing of Fatah, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, announced [recently] that its members have been enrolled in a new military academy for training “fighters” in the Gaza Strip . . . “in the context of a program for preparing for any future battle” with the “Zionist enemy.” . . .

[There are several] Fatah-affiliated militias that continue to operate in the Gaza Strip despite Hamas’s violent takeover of the area in the summer of 2007. These groups pose no threat to the Hamas regime, which is why they are allowed to operate freely. . . Their express purpose is to prepare for war with Israel and launch terror attacks against Israelis. Hamas, however, which expelled their leaders from the Gaza Strip and continues to persecute dozens of Fatah activists there, is not on their hit list. . . .

These groups believe that they represent the real Fatah, the one that never recognized Israel’s right to exist and holds on to armed struggle as the only way to “liberate Palestine.” . . .

The power play among Fatah militias in Gaza reflects the wider division among Fatah’s political leaders. According to Palestinian sources, Fatah leaders in the strip have dissociated themselves from the faction’s leadership in the West Bank. Abbas’s aides blame exiled Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan for the schism. . . . [Recently], thousands of Fatah members who are loyal to Dahlan staged a large demonstration in the Gaza Strip against Abbas. During the protest, they burned and trampled on pictures of the PA president.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Fatah, Gaza Strip, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas


To Undermine Russian and Iranian Influence in Syria, the U.S. Must Go on the Offensive

March 22 2018

When Iranian-lead, pro-Assad forces attacked U.S. allies in Syria last month, they found themselves quickly overwhelmed by American firepower. The incident, writes Tony Badran, makes clear that the U.S. has the capability to push back against the Damascus-Tehran-Moscow axis. By taking a more aggressive approach while working closely with Israel, Badran argues, Washington can at once prevent Russia and Iran from cementing their control of Syria and avoid getting drawn into a wider conflict:

Israeli assets can augment U.S. capabilities considerably. A few days after the skirmish in Deir Ezzour in February, Iran flew a drone into Israeli air space. Israel responded by destroying the Iranian command center at the Tiyas military air base near Palmyra, and then proceeded to bomb a large number of Iranian and Assad-regime targets. The episode again underscored the vulnerability of Iran, to say nothing of the brittle Assad regime. Close coordination with Israel to expand this ongoing targeting campaign against Iranian and Hizballah infrastructure, senior cadres, and logistical routes, and amplifying it with U.S. assets in the region, would have a devastating effect on Iran’s position in Syria.

By going on the offensive, the U.S. will also strengthen Israel’s hand with Russia, reducing Jerusalem’s need to petition the Kremlin and thereby diminishing Moscow’s ability to position itself as an arbiter on Israeli security. For instance, instead of haggling with Russia to obtain its commitment to keep Iran five or seven kilometers away from the Israeli border, the U.S. could adopt the Israeli position on Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and assist Israel in enforcing it. Such a posture would have a direct effect on another critical ally, Jordan, whose role is of high importance in southern Syria and in the U.S. zone in the east.

Assad and Iran are the scaffolding on which the Russian position stands. Targeting them, therefore, undercuts Moscow and reduces its leverage. By merely forcing Russia to respect Israeli and Jordanian needs on the border, the U.S. would undermine Russia’s attempt, more generally, to leverage its position in Syria to make headway into the U.S. alliance system. In addition to adopting a more offensive military posture, the U.S. should also intensify the economic chokehold on Assadist Syria.

Read more at Caravan

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy