How the IRA and the PLO Became Part of the USSR’s Terrorist International

From 1969 until 1998, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) conducted an insurgency against British rule in Northern Ireland that often involved bloody attacks on civilians. Kyle Orton, in an examination of this conflict, connects it to the broader history of terrorism:

It was in the language of self-defense that, in November 1969, the IRA phrased its request for weapons to the Soviets, relayed through the secretary-general of the Irish Communist party, Michael O’Riordan. The Soviets agreed, and the first weapons shipment was delivered in 1972, once the KGB chief Yuri Andropov was sure the IRA could keep its Moscow connection secret. The IRA [had] split into the Official IRA (OIRA) and the Provisional IRA (PIRA) in December 1969.

The PIRA would become part of the interlaced network of international terrorist groups that received Soviet support during the last 30 years of the wold war. This was a synergistic ecosystem. . . . The KGB’s role in global terrorism was, with the exception of the KGB’s role in controlling the “fraternal” Communist parties around the world, its most closely guarded secret. While both facts were obvious to anybody who wanted to see even at the time, the Soviets engaged in elaborate efforts to hide their hand and most Western media and academic coverage dismissed such suggestions as “conspiracy theories” or “McCarthyism.”

With the terrorist groups, the Soviets used a two-factor method to distance themselves: a lot of the operations were delegated to the captive nations [of Eastern and Central Europe], particularly the East Germans, and the Stasi and others then used secondary intermediaries, notably the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and states like Hafez al-Assad’s Syria and (notoriously in the case of the PIRA) Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi’s Libya. It is no accident, as the comrades used to say, that it was in the 1990s, after the Soviet Union had collapsed, that groups like the PIRA and the PLO found themselves in positions where they even had to pretend to engage in “peace processes.”

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More about: Ireland, KGB, Palestinian terror, PLO, Terrorism

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship