A Boycott of Lebanon for Defying the Security Council? Unlikely

Jan. 11 2017

In 2004, 2005, and 2006, the United Nations Security Council passed resolutions calling on the Lebanese government to disband and disarm any militias within its borders—a clear, although not explicit, reference to Hizballah. Beirut, however, has done nothing to comply, and the newly elected government has all but announced that it has no intention to do so. Nevertheless, a White House spokesman has praised it for working “to uphold and implement Lebanon’s international commitments.” Where, wonders Elliott Abrams, are the calls to boycott and sanction Lebanon?

What happens when UN Security Council resolutions are ignored? That depends, really—on whether you are any of 192 other members of the United Nations, or are Israel. . . .

Of course the two situations are not comparable—not when you consider that Hizballah is a murderous terrorist group that kills people every day, and was likely involved in killing Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s father Rafik in 2005. . . . So one can sympathize with Saad Hariri and other Lebanese politicians when they bow to Hizballah. . . .

But the fact remains that Lebanon is defying the Security Council very clearly and very deliberately, and no one says a word about it (except to applaud). No one is threatening a boycott of Lebanese goods until it complies. No one is suggesting that Lebanese politicians are violating international law by their complicity with and now official defense of Hizballah. Actually, some pressure from the West might be useful in empowering and emboldening Lebanese politicians who are trying to resist Hizballah, and risking their lives by doing so. But that’s not the point here. The point is that plenty of countries defy the UN but in very, very few cases is this even noticed, and in fewer still is anyone punished.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations

Mahmoud Abbas’s Appointment of a New Deputy Chairman Won’t Prevent a Violent Succession Struggle

Feb. 24 2017

Last week, amid ongoing concern over his refusal to choose a successor, the aging president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) elevated two of his associates to important positions within his Fatah party. Mahmoud al-Aloul, a PLO veteran who was close to Yasir Arafat’s inner circle, was named deputy party chairman, and Jibril Rajoub, who served as the head of Arafat’s Preventive Security Force in the West Bank, became the secretary general. The move, writes Yoni Ben Menachem, has calmed some of the internal tensions within Fatah, but only in the short run:

Both . . . Aloul and Rajoub, are unacceptable to the Fatah Central Committee as possible successors to Abbas as PA president or Fatah chairman. As soon as Abbas is in a state of incapacity, a harsh and violent succession struggle will ensue. . . .

Aloul and Rajoub are already making the most of their promotions to try and clear their path to the PA leadership and remove any obstacle in their way. . . . [The two] are themselves keen political rivals. But, although each sees himself as Abbas’s [rightful] successor, they appear to have a common interest in getting rid of [the current PA prime minister, Rami] Hamdallah, as quickly as possible. He does not belong to the Fatah movement and was appointed to the post because of his personal ties with Abbas. . . .

Abbas will have to contend as soon as possible with a pack of Fatah figures who want to succeed him. The pound of flesh he tossed to Aloul and Rajoub in the form of senior positions in the movement’s leadership will only satisfy them for a very short time. They will not stop trying to undermine him—especially Rajoub who is known to be a tireless subversive in Palestinian politics. Also involved in the effort will be [Abbas’s longtime rival Mahmoud] Dahlan and Marwan Barghouti, [the mastermind of the second intifada, who is currently in an Israeli prison], who are likely to join forces, and General Majid Freij, who has already forged ties with the new CIA chief Mike Pompeo.

The current calm in the Fatah leadership is only temporary. Despite Abbas’s new appointments last week, it could collapse at any moment.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Politics & Current Affairs