America Should Strengthen Its Military Alliance with Israel

James Stavridis, a retired general who worked extensively with the IDF while serving as head of the U.S. European Command, argues for a broadening of the already extensive strategic ties between the two countries:

[America’s] best military partner in the region, by far, is Israel. . . . The U.S. would be well served to develop more fully its partnership with the Israel Defense Forces in several crucial areas as we stand together facing the challenges of the Middle East. . . . Perhaps the most important area of potential cooperation is in the world of cybersecurity. Israeli intelligence gathering is superb, and the integration of the Israeli military with the nation’s robust private-sector security firms is nearly seamless. Israel is also ahead of the U.S. in bringing advancements from the private sector into public hands; the brightest people constantly flow between the military and civilian spheres. . . .

[In addition], we should up our game in terms of intelligence cooperation. The Israeli military and the associated Israeli intelligence services Mossad, Aman, and Shin Bet are the best in the Middle East. Working together, they have been ahead of our more segregated sectors on a wide range of trends, including the disintegration of Syria, the events in Egypt, and the military and nuclear capability of Iran. Here we need a more open exchange of information between our two countries (especially human intelligence from Israel and overhead-sensor data from the U.S.). More liaison officers between military and intelligence commands would help, as would more frequent conferences and dialogue on principles. . . .

For the U.S. in the complex Middle East, we would be well served to follow the Israeli military’s advice on a range of key issues.

Read more at Time

More about: Cyberwarfare, IDF, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Foreign policy, U.S. military, US-Israel relations

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