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The Squabble among the Gulf States Is Complex. Devising a U.S. Response Need Not Be

July 13 2017

As the spat between Qatar on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt on the other shows no sign of abating, John Bolton suggests policies that can help resolve the dispute while advancing American interests:

Confronting the twin issues of radical Islamic terrorism and the ayatollahs’ malign regime in Iran are central not only to the Arab disputants but to the United States as well. In addition to providing our good offices to the Gulf Cooperation Council members, the Trump administration should take two critical steps to restore unity and stability among these key allies.

First, the State Department should declare both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to be foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs), thus triggering the penalties and sanctions required by law when such a declaration is made. Both groups meet the statutory definition because of their violence and continuing threats against Americans. . . .

The Muslim Brotherhood’s defenders argue that it is far from monolithic; that many of its “affiliates” are in fact entirely harmless; and that a blanket declaration would actually harm our anti-jihadist efforts. Even taking these objections as true for the sake of argument, they counsel a careful delineation among elements of the Brotherhood. Those that, in whole or part, meet the statutory FTO definition should be designated; those that do not can be spared, at least in the absence of new information. The Brotherhood’s alleged complexity is an argument for being precise in the FTO designations, not for avoiding any designations whatsoever.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other Arab governments already target the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, but Qatar, [which actively supports it], does not. . . . Once Washington acts, however, it will be much harder for Qatar or anyone else to argue that the Brotherhood is just a collection of charitable souls performing humanitarian missions.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran, Muslim Brotherhood, Politics & Current Affairs, Qatar, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Hamas’s Dangerous Escalation in Gaza

June 22 2018

As Hamas has stepped up its attacks on communities near the Gaza Strip—using incendiary devices attached to kites and balloons—Israel has begun to retaliate more forcefully. In response, the terrorist group has begun firing rockets and mortars into Israel. Yoav Limor comments:

What made Wednesday’s rocket salvo different is that ‎unlike previous flare-ups on the border [since 2014], this time it ‎was Hamas operatives who fired at Israel, as opposed ‎to Islamic Jihad or the ‎rogue terrorist group in the coastal enclave. ‎Still, Hamas made sure the attack followed most of ‎the familiar “rules”—only [firing] at night and only at the ‎ communities in the vicinity of Gaza, and apparently while also ‎trying to minimize any casualties, to avoid further ‎escalation. ‎. . .

The first reason [for the shift in tactics] is Israel’s own change of policy ‎with regard to kite terrorism. It took Israel far ‎too long to define the incessant waves of incendiary ‎kites sent over the border as actionable acts of ‎terror, but once it did, the IDF began ‎systematically countering them, including firing ‎warning shots at terrorist kite cells and targeting ‎Hamas assets in Gaza in retaliation.‎

The second reason is Hamas’s own frustration and ‎distress in Gaza. Since the border-riot campaign was ‎launched on March 30, some 150 of its operatives ‎have been killed and the Israeli military has ‎carried out over 100 strikes on Hamas positions in ‎the coastal enclave, all while Hamas has nothing to ‎show for it. ‎In this situation, Hamas is searching for [some sort of victory] by declaring that “bombings will be ‎met with bombings,” as Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum ‎said Wednesday, in order to portray itself as defending Gaza from ‎Israel.‎ . . .

Hamas is banking on Israel opting against a military ‎campaign in Gaza at this time so as not to split its ‎focus from the [developments in Syria], but it is sorely ‎mistaken if it thinks Israel will simply contain ‎kite terrorism or shy away from action given the new ‎equation it has presented. ‎At some point, Israel’s patience will expire.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security