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Mahmoud Abbas’s Desperate Boycott Strategy

Feb. 28 2018

As late as 2013, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was sending mixed messages about its relationship with the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS)—a movement that officially claims to be responding to “a call from Palestinian civil society.” The PA’s ambiguity ended by 2015, when the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Central Council (effectively indistinguishable from the PA) urged an international boycott of Israeli goods. David May comments:

In an October 2016 interview with the Arab Weekly, Nabil Shaath, President Mahmoud Abbas’s top foreign-affairs adviser, said that “the Palestinians can still defeat Israel” with the help of a consumer boycott. During his 2017 UN General Assembly speech, Abbas said, “I call on all states to end all forms of direct and indirect involvement with, and support for, the illegal Israeli colonial settlement regime.” . . .

Among the biggest proponents of BDS within Abbas’s inner circle is his Fatah deputy, Mahmoud al-Aloul, [who] has often declared that “all forms of resistance are legitimate,” an allusion to his support for violence against Israelis. . . . According to a March 2017 audio tape obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, Aloul said, “We [i.e., the Palestinian government] have relations with BDS, our people work there, and we have delegates there. We cooperate with BDS on all levels, and not only with BDS: every group whose aim is to boycott Israel, we are with.” . . .

Since 2014, Abbas has eschewed direct talks with Israel, preferring to attack the Jewish state in the international arena and engage in ill-fated reconciliation attempts with the terrorist group Hamas. Now, with his back against the wall, as he finds himself isolated from the Arab states and from the Trump administration, Abbas seems to be embracing economic warfare against Israel as a national strategy. The decision, while perhaps a long time coming, seems to underscore that the aging Palestinian leader has run out of strategies. The move to support economic warfare will almost certainly prove to be an obstacle to peace and undermine Abbas’s remaining legitimacy.

Read more at RealClear World

More about: Abbas, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority

The Future of a Free Iran May Lie with a Restoration of the Shah

June 25 2018

Examining the recent waves of protest and political unrest in the Islamic Republic—from women shunning the hijab to truckers going out on strike—Sohrab Ahmari considers what would happen in the event of an actual collapse of the regime. Through an analysis of Iranian history, he concludes that the country would best be served by placing Reza Pahlavi, the son and heir of its last shah, at the head of a constitutional monarchy:

The end of Islamist rule in Iran would be a world-historical event and an unalloyed good for the country and its neighbors, marking a return to normalcy four decades after the Ayatollah Khomeini founded his regime. . . . But what exactly is that normalcy? . . .

First, Iranian political culture demands a living source of authority to embody the will of the nation and stand above a fractious and ethnically heterogenous society. Put another way, Iranians need a “shah” of some sort. They have never lived collectively without one, and their political imagination has always been directed toward a throne. The constitutionalist experiment of the early 20th century coexisted (badly) with monarchic authority, and the current Islamic Republic has a supreme leader—which is to say, a shah by another name. It is the height of utopianism to imagine that a 2,500-year-old tradition can be wiped away. The presence of a shah, [however], needn’t mean the absence of rule of law, deliberative politics, or any of the other elements of ordered liberty that the West cherishes in its own systems. . . .

Second, Iranian political culture demands a source of continuity with Persian history. The anxieties associated with modernity and centuries of historical discontinuity drove Iranians into the arms of Khomeini and his bearded minions, who promised a connection to Shiite tradition. Khomeinism turned out to be a bloody failure, but there is scant reason to imagine the thirst for continuity has been quenched. . . . Iranian nationalism . . . could be the answer, and, to judge by the nationalist tone of the current upheaval, it is the one the people have already hit upon.

When protestors chant “We Will Die to Get Iran Back,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, My Life Only for Iran,” and “Let Syria Be, Do Something for Me,” they are expressing a positive vision of Iranian nationhood: no longer do they wish to pay the price for the regime’s Shiite hegemonic ambitions. Iranian blood should be spilled for Iran, not Gaza, which for most Iranians is little more than a geographical abstraction. It is precisely its nationalist dimension that makes the current revolt the most potent the mullahs have yet faced. Nationalism, after all, is a much stronger force and in Iran the longing for historical continuity runs much deeper than liberal-democratic aspiration. Westerners who wish to see a replay of Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 in today’s Iran will find the lessons of Iranian history hard and distasteful, but Iranians and their friends who wish to see past the Islamic Republic must pay heed.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Nationalism, Politics & Current Affairs, Shah