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Why Was Mahmoud Abbas Avoiding the UN Secretary-General?

Sept. 8 2017

Last week, the UN secretary-general António Guterres visited Israel, Ramallah, and Gaza without meeting with the Palestinian Authority president, who was conveniently in Turkey to see President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Pinḥas Inbari suggests that Abbas simply didn’t want to hear what Guterres had to say:

Guterres’s meeting, [Abbas’s aides believed], was to be a continuation of the visit of the U.S. delegation led by Jared Kushner that pressured Abbas to “behave himself” at the [upcoming meeting of the UN General Assembly]. That meant not addressing the assembly with extreme anti-Israeli messages, not applying to the Security Council for status as an independent state in the UN, and not applying to UN agencies for membership.

The moderate Arab countries, . . . Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, . . . are pressuring Abbas along the same lines. . . . The point these Arab states are emphasizing is that “we are with Trump.” They demand the Palestinians align with their pro-Trump policy. . . .

There was a second reason why Mahmoud Abbas avoided seeing the UN secretary-general: Gaza. He knew that Guterres was about to plead with him to soften the PA’s sanctions against it, and he did not want to hear that message.

Indeed, the purpose of Abbas’s Turkey visit was to secure support for his Gaza policy, and, according to our sources, that visit failed. Abbas sought to tell Erdogan to handle Gaza only through Ramallah channels. He wanted to block Hamas’s bypassing of his sanctions by applying directly to Turkey for help. Erdogan, however, suggested instead that he will act as mediator because he has good relations “with both sides.” Hence, Erdogan put his fellow Muslim Brotherhood members, Hamas, on the same level with Abbas and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Antonio Guterres, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Turkey, United Nations

In Dealing with Iran, the U.S. Can Learn from Ronald Reagan

When Ronald Reagan arrived at the White House in 1981, the consensus was that, with regard to the Soviet Union, two responsible policy choices presented themselves: détente, or a return to the Truman-era policy of containment. Reagan, however, insisted that the USSR’s influence could not just be checked but rolled back, and without massive bloodshed. A decade later, the Soviet empire collapsed entirely. In crafting a policy toward the Islamic Republic today, David Ignatius urges the current president to draw on Reagan’s success:

A serious strategy to roll back Iran would begin with Syria. The U.S. would maintain the strong military position it has established east of the Euphrates and enhance its garrison at Tanf and other points in southern Syria. Trump’s public comments suggest, however, that he wants to pull these troops out, the sooner the better. This would all but assure continued Iranian power in Syria.

Iraq is another key pressure point. The victory of militant Iraqi nationalist Moqtada al-Sadr in [last week’s] elections should worry Tehran as much as Washington. Sadr has quietly developed good relations with Saudi Arabia, and his movement may offer the best chance of maintaining an Arab Iraq as opposed to a Persian-dominated one. But again, that’s assuming that Washington is serious about backing the Saudis in checking Iran’s regional ambitions. . . .

The Arabs, [however], want the U.S. (or Israel) to do the fighting this time. That’s a bad idea for America, for many reasons, but the biggest is that there’s no U.S. political support for a war against Iran. . . .

Rolling back an aggressive rival seems impossible, until someone dares to try it.

Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: Cold War, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Ronald Reagan, U.S. Foreign policy