After Seventeen Years, Is an End to the War on Terror in Sight?

Sept. 12 2018

Yesterday was the seventeenth anniversary of al-Qaeda’s bloody attacks on New York and Washington. Clifford May uses the occasion to reflect on the state of America’s long war on jihadism:

A grand illusion to which Americans and Europeans are susceptible [is that] war is an aberration, and peace is the normal state of the world, a condition to which all peoples aspire. Even a cursory reading of history shows this to be wishful thinking. . . . The grim reality is that after seventeen years of conflict, we have not decisively defeated al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Far from it: al-Qaeda franchises proliferate and, according to Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, “the Taliban’s men contest or control approximately 60 percent of [Afghanistan]—as much ground as at any point since the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001.” . . .

[Meanwhile], the Islamic Republic of Iran’s long-term goal remains, as it has for nearly 40 years, “Death to America!” Its supreme leader now projects power into Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Gaza, and Iraq. He aids those fighting Americans in Afghanistan. He sponsors terrorists with impunity. . . .
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[O]ur enemies do not appear exhausted, discouraged, or underfunded. Do we know them yet, or are we still trying to imagine what “drives” people to “violent extremism?” Do we have the stomach to endure the long war—which, I believe, should be recognized as a multi-front struggle against jihadism? Do we have the patience to develop a winning strategy even if that requires—as it clearly does—much trial and too many errors?

In the days after the 2001 attacks, it was said that a sleeping giant had been awakened. Today, there are many on both the left and the right telling the giant to go back to bed and pull the covers over his eyes. If that’s where our enemies find us, they’ll know what to do.

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More about: Al Qaeda, Iran, ISIS, Jihadism, Politics & Current Affairs, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary]. approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat