The Importance of Driving Iran Out of Gaza

Dec. 12 2018

Since 2017, Iran has become Hamas’s leading supplier of funds and weapons; in addition, the second-largest military force in Gaza, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, functions as an Iranian proxy. Both of these groups are Sunni—unlike the Shiite militias Tehran has sponsored throughout the Middle East. But since 2012 the Islamic Republic has also cultivating another group, known as Sabireen, which is led by Shiites, is modeled on Hizballah, and has between 400 and 3,000 fighters. Noting that the Tehran has no doubt played a role in the recent outbreaks of anti-Israel violence, Danny Shoham explains what its interference in Gaza means going forward:

[W]hile Sabireen remains a murky movement, its very existence is a clear sign that Iran is not prepared to tolerate quiet in the Palestinian territories, even as Hamas and Fatah seek time and space to solidify their fragile unity arrangement. This is a strong indicator of Tehran’s broader goals in the Palestinian arena. Instead of heeding the will of the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, who support efforts to re-forge a national government [exercising authority over both Gaza and the West Bank] after years of fracture, Iran appears intent on pushing the Palestinians into conflict with Israel—or even with each other. . . .

Iranian conduct [over the past 35 years] exhibits a clear modus operandi. In line with that pattern of behavior, Iran has significantly strengthened its position in Gaza, possibly to the point that it is now a critical factor there. Tehran’s chief goal is in all likelihood to obstruct the broad efforts of Egypt and the UN to stabilize the [recent] ceasefire between Israel and Gaza and possibly expand the terms of the truce. Without Iranian interference, the situation in Gaza—indeed, in much of the Middle East—would be a great deal more promising. . . .

[For Israel], rooting out—entirely and for good—whatever Iranian presence exists in that area, or otherwise terminating its impact, while difficult, . . . is both vital and feasible.

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


The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey