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At Its Seventh Congress, Mahmoud Abbas’s Party Endorses Continued Low-Grade Violence

Dec. 22 2016

At the seventh congress of the PLO’s Fatah faction a few weeks ago, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president and other party leaders gave speeches endorsing “popular resistance” against Israel, the policy initiated at the previous congress in 2009. The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center explains what this term signifies:

[While] “popular resistance” is represented as legal, unarmed, and peaceful, . . . developments on the ground since the sixth conference indicate that behind the term “peaceful popular resistance” hides support given by Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah, and the Palestinian Authority to terrorism, which again erupted violently in September 2015. . . .

As far as Fatah and the PA are concerned, “popular resistance” creates constant, monitored, [and] controlled tension between Israel and the Palestinians, used to exert pressure on Israel to the degree considered appropriate for the needs of the PA’s political campaign against Israel. [For] the PA and Fatah, “popular resistance” [is] an acceptable alternative to Hamas’s concept of “armed struggle,” which the PA and Fatah do not regard as useful at the present stage of the Palestinians’ anti-Israel struggle (although Fatah does not reject it in principle).

“Popular resistance” is not non-violent protest, as claimed by Mahmoud Abbas and the PA. It makes extensive use of violence, especially the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails, as well as stabbing and vehicular attacks. . . . During the past year “popular resistance” . . . has caused the deaths of dozens of Israeli civilians and members of the Israeli security forces. . . .

[Nonetheless], the PA objects to the use of firearms and to turning “popular resistance” into a military-type intifada against Israel, as advocated by Hamas.

Read more at Meir Amit Center

More about: Fatah, Israel & Zionism, Knife intifada, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian terror

The Future of a Free Iran May Lie with a Restoration of the Shah

June 25 2018

Examining the recent waves of protest and political unrest in the Islamic Republic—from women shunning the hijab to truckers going out on strike—Sohrab Ahmari considers what would happen in the event of an actual collapse of the regime. Through an analysis of Iranian history, he concludes that the country would best be served by placing Reza Pahlavi, the son and heir of its last shah, at the head of a constitutional monarchy:

The end of Islamist rule in Iran would be a world-historical event and an unalloyed good for the country and its neighbors, marking a return to normalcy four decades after the Ayatollah Khomeini founded his regime. . . . But what exactly is that normalcy? . . .

First, Iranian political culture demands a living source of authority to embody the will of the nation and stand above a fractious and ethnically heterogenous society. Put another way, Iranians need a “shah” of some sort. They have never lived collectively without one, and their political imagination has always been directed toward a throne. The constitutionalist experiment of the early 20th century coexisted (badly) with monarchic authority, and the current Islamic Republic has a supreme leader—which is to say, a shah by another name. It is the height of utopianism to imagine that a 2,500-year-old tradition can be wiped away. The presence of a shah, [however], needn’t mean the absence of rule of law, deliberative politics, or any of the other elements of ordered liberty that the West cherishes in its own systems. . . .

Second, Iranian political culture demands a source of continuity with Persian history. The anxieties associated with modernity and centuries of historical discontinuity drove Iranians into the arms of Khomeini and his bearded minions, who promised a connection to Shiite tradition. Khomeinism turned out to be a bloody failure, but there is scant reason to imagine the thirst for continuity has been quenched. . . . Iranian nationalism . . . could be the answer, and, to judge by the nationalist tone of the current upheaval, it is the one the people have already hit upon.

When protestors chant “We Will Die to Get Iran Back,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, My Life Only for Iran,” and “Let Syria Be, Do Something for Me,” they are expressing a positive vision of Iranian nationhood: no longer do they wish to pay the price for the regime’s Shiite hegemonic ambitions. Iranian blood should be spilled for Iran, not Gaza, which for most Iranians is little more than a geographical abstraction. It is precisely its nationalist dimension that makes the current revolt the most potent the mullahs have yet faced. Nationalism, after all, is a much stronger force and in Iran the longing for historical continuity runs much deeper than liberal-democratic aspiration. Westerners who wish to see a replay of Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 in today’s Iran will find the lessons of Iranian history hard and distasteful, but Iranians and their friends who wish to see past the Islamic Republic must pay heed.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Nationalism, Politics & Current Affairs, Shah