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.”

Read more at It Can Always Get Worse

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

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict