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What President Trump Can Accomplish on His Trip to the Middle East

As President Trump prepares to visit both Saudi Arabia and Israel, and thereafter to attend a NATO meeting in Brussels, Robert Satloff has some suggestions for what he can bring to America’s traditional allies:

First, the president should take advantage of his meeting with Muslim leaders in Riyadh to propose a new partnership to roll back the twin forms of Islamist extremism that threaten global peace and security: the Sunni jihadism of Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda, and like-minded sub-state actors, movements, and groups, and the Iranian-led consortium of radical states, militias, and proxies. . . . Such a partnership—less than a full-fledged treaty but more than just a vague communiqué—would have many component parts, from military, political, and diplomatic to economic, educational, and cultural. . . .

Second, the president should link his Riyadh and Brussels meetings to secure promises from his Arab hosts and his NATO partners for a coordinated, all-hands-on-deck effort to ensure stability, security, and reasonably effective governance in the lands soon to be liberated from IS domination in eastern Syria and western Iraq. . . .

[In addition], the president should use his considerable political leverage to advance a secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians. . . . With Palestinians, he should pick up a theme George W. Bush championed fifteen years ago as a requirement of U.S. partnership and then dropped in the tumult of the Iraq war: an insistence on internal reform, on everything from fighting corruption to stamping out incitement to ending the odious practice of paying terrorists and their families.

Read more at New York Daily News

More about: Middle East, NATO, Palestinian Authority, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy

Why a Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Is Unlikely

Feb. 16 2018

High-ranking figures in the IDF, along with some Israeli and foreign officials, have been warning that economic troubles combined with severely deficient public works could lead to an outbreak of starvation or epidemic in the Gaza Strip; their warnings have been taken up and amplified in sensationalist stories in Western media. Hillel Frisch is skeptical:

The most important factor behind real humanitarian crises—mass hunger and contagious disease—is first and foremost the breakdown of law and order, and violence between warring militias and gangs. This is what occurred in Darfur, Somalia, and the Central African Republic. In such situations, the first to leave are the relief agencies. Then local medical staffs evacuate, along with local government officials and anyone professional who can make it out of the bedlam. The destitute are left to fend for themselves. Hospitals, dispensaries, schools, and local government offices are soon abandoned or become scenes of grisly shootouts and reprisals.

Nothing could be farther from such a reality than Gaza. Hamas, which is the main source of [misleading reports] of an imminent humanitarian crisis, rules Gaza with an iron fist. Few developed democracies in the world can boast the low homicide rates prevailing in the Strip. Nor have there been reports of any closings of hospitals, municipal governments, schools, universities, colleges, or dispensaries. . . .

Nor have there been news items announcing the departure of any foreign relief agencies or the closure of any human-rights organizations in the area. Nor is there any evidence that the World Health Organization (WHO), which rigorously monitors the world to prevent the outbreak of contagious disease, is seriously looking at Gaza. And that is for good reason. The WHO knows, as do hundreds of medical personnel in Israeli hospitals who liaise with their colleagues in Gaza, that the hospital system in Gaza is of a high caliber, certainly by the standards of the developing world. . . .

Hamas, [of course], wants more trucks entering Gaza to increase tax revenues to pay for its 30,000-strong militia and public security force, and to increase the prospects of smuggling arms for the benefit of its missile stockpiles and tunnel-building efforts. How Israel should react is equally obvious. You want more humanitarian aid? . . . Free the two mentally disabled Israelis who found their way into Gaza and are imprisoned by Hamas.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian economy