When Will Iran Be Sanctioned for its Continuing Relationship with al-Qaeda?

Feb. 11 2019

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body that identifies countries assisting terrorist groups, will convene in Paris next week; among the items on its agenda are Tehran’s previous noncompliance with its directives. Toby Dershowitz and Serena Frechter urge FATF to initiate countermeasures against the Islamic Republic over its support for al-Qaeda, which has gone on for decades:

Last week, a little-noticed map published in the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community identified Iran as a place where al-Qaeda “affiliates, elements, or networks” operate. . . . Iran’s relationship with al-Qaeda began in the early 1990s, when their [respective] leaders, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, met in Sudan and reached an “informal agreement to cooperate.” Iran then provided al-Qaeda with the training, material, and inspiration for attacks, including the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. Together, these attacks killed 224 people, including twelve Americans.

Senior al-Qaeda operatives have also coordinated attacks from inside Iran, where leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) . . . have provided them with travel documents and safe haven. In Iran, Osama bin Laden’s son, Sa’ad bin Laden, allegedly planned attacks in Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in 2002-2003 that together killed more than 50 people, including twenty Europeans.

Such cooperation continues today. State Department [annual reports have] noted, beginning in 2012 during the Obama administration and continuing through the most recent report, that “Iran has allowed [al-Qaeda] facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling [al-Qaeda] to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.” Likewise, in July 2018, the United Nations Security Council released a report highlighting al-Qaeda’s role in Iran. Based on intelligence from UN member states, the report concludes that al-Qaeda leaders in Iran “have grown more prominent, working with [the current al-Qaeda leader] Ayman al-Zawahiri and projecting his authority more effectively than he could previously.” . . .

FATF should keep Iran on its blacklist and reinstate countermeasures against Tehran to stymie Iran’s terrorist activities and protect the global financial system.

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More about: Al Qaeda, Iran, Iran sanctions, Politics & Current Affairs

European Aid to the Middle East Is Shaped by a Political Agenda

Feb. 18 2019

The EU’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Unit dispenses millions of dollars in economic and humanitarian assistance to dozens of countries every year. Although it claims to operate on principles of strict neutrality, independent of any political motivation and giving priority to the neediest cases, a look at its activities in the Middle East suggests an entirely different approach, as Hillel Frisch writes:

[T]he Middle East is the overwhelming beneficiary of EU humanitarian aid—nearly 1 billion of just over 1.4 billion euros. . . . The bulk of the funds goes toward meeting the costs of assistance to Syrian refugees, followed by smaller sums to Iraq, Yemen, “Palestine,” and North Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, receives less than one-third of that amount. The problem with such allocations is that the overwhelming majority of people living in dire poverty reside in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Bangladesh. . . . The Palestinians, who are richer on average than those living in the poorest states of the world, . . . receive over six euros per capita, while the populations of the poorest states receive less than one-eighth of that amount. . . .

Even less defensible is the EU’s claim to political neutrality. Its favoritism toward the Palestinians on this score is visible as soon as one enters terms into the general search function on the European Commission’s website. Enter “Palestine” and you get 20,737 results. Enter “Ethiopia” and you get almost the same figure, despite massive differences in population size (Ethiopia’s 100 million versus fewer than 5 million Palestinians), geographic expanse (Ethiopia is 50 times the size of “Palestine”), and degree of sheer suffering. The Syrian crisis, which is said to have led to the loss of a half-million lives, merits not many more site results than “Palestine.”

One of the foci of the website’s reports [on the Palestinians] is the plight of 35,000 Bedouin whom the EU assists, often in clear violation of the law, in Area C—the part of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli control. The hundreds of thousands of Bedouin in Sinai, however, the plight of whom is readily acknowledged even by Egyptian officials, gets no mention, even though Egypt is a recipient of EU aid. . . .

Clearly, the EU’s approach to aid allocation has nothing to do with impartiality, true social-welfare needs, or humanitarian considerations. [Instead], it favors allocations to Syrian refugees above Yemeni refugees because of the higher probability that Syrian refugees will find their way to Europe. . . . The recipients of European largesse who are next in line [to Syrians], in relative terms, are the Palestinians. [This particular policy] can be attributed primarily to the EU’s hostility toward Israel, its rightful historical claims, and its security needs.

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More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Palestinians