Meet Mahmoud al-Aloul, the Man Poised to Succeed Mahmoud Abbas

March 9 2018

The veteran terrorist Mahmoud al-Aloul, known also as Abu Jihad, is the first person ever to hold the position of deputy chairman of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah faction, and is generally considered Mahmoud Abbas’s handpicked successor as PA president—although whether he will actually be able to take power is anyone’s guess. Having been involved with the Palestinian national movement since the 1960s, Aloul distanced himself from terrorism after the second intifada. Grant Rumley, who interviewed him in December, writes:

Days after we met in his office, Aloul went on television to declare all forms of resistance—both violent and non-violent—to be legitimate responses to President Trump’s speech recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He has since walked back those comments, insisting that his preferred methods are non-violent, but his rhetoric sets him apart from the other Palestinian politicians who have risen in the court of Abbas. Indeed, as a former mobilizer for Fatah, Aloul, who never participated in peace talks, is more connected to the people than many in Ramallah.

Aloul is not nearly as wedded as Abbas to diplomacy, nor is he afraid to embrace positions that Abbas typically avoids. Most noticeably, he has long been skeptical of the peace process. . . . To that end, Aloul has urged Palestinians to take to the streets. This resonates with a majority of Palestinians, who are increasingly dissatisfied with Abbas for his prioritization of the security relationship with Israel over [so-called] “popular protests.” At least part of Abbas’s wariness about public unrest is due to his fear that the Palestinian street may turn against the Ramallah leadership, a fear Aloul acknowledges. . . .

Perhaps Aloul’s biggest break with his leader is in his willingness to entertain, and even support, the one-state movement. An increasing number of young Palestinians have called on their leadership to abandon the traditional Oslo peace process in favor of a binational state—a euphemism for the demographic destruction of the Jewish-majority state in Israel.

Read more at American Interest

More about: Fatah, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror

To Undermine Russian and Iranian Influence in Syria, the U.S. Must Go on the Offensive

March 22 2018

When Iranian-lead, pro-Assad forces attacked U.S. allies in Syria last month, they found themselves quickly overwhelmed by American firepower. The incident, writes Tony Badran, makes clear that the U.S. has the capability to push back against the Damascus-Tehran-Moscow axis. By taking a more aggressive approach while working closely with Israel, Badran argues, Washington can at once prevent Russia and Iran from cementing their control of Syria and avoid getting drawn into a wider conflict:

Israeli assets can augment U.S. capabilities considerably. A few days after the skirmish in Deir Ezzour in February, Iran flew a drone into Israeli air space. Israel responded by destroying the Iranian command center at the Tiyas military air base near Palmyra, and then proceeded to bomb a large number of Iranian and Assad-regime targets. The episode again underscored the vulnerability of Iran, to say nothing of the brittle Assad regime. Close coordination with Israel to expand this ongoing targeting campaign against Iranian and Hizballah infrastructure, senior cadres, and logistical routes, and amplifying it with U.S. assets in the region, would have a devastating effect on Iran’s position in Syria.

By going on the offensive, the U.S. will also strengthen Israel’s hand with Russia, reducing Jerusalem’s need to petition the Kremlin and thereby diminishing Moscow’s ability to position itself as an arbiter on Israeli security. For instance, instead of haggling with Russia to obtain its commitment to keep Iran five or seven kilometers away from the Israeli border, the U.S. could adopt the Israeli position on Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and assist Israel in enforcing it. Such a posture would have a direct effect on another critical ally, Jordan, whose role is of high importance in southern Syria and in the U.S. zone in the east.

Assad and Iran are the scaffolding on which the Russian position stands. Targeting them, therefore, undercuts Moscow and reduces its leverage. By merely forcing Russia to respect Israeli and Jordanian needs on the border, the U.S. would undermine Russia’s attempt, more generally, to leverage its position in Syria to make headway into the U.S. alliance system. In addition to adopting a more offensive military posture, the U.S. should also intensify the economic chokehold on Assadist Syria.

Read more at Caravan

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy