What the American Withdrawal from Afghanistan Means for Hamas

Sept. 23 2021

In the past, write Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh, Hamas has claimed to have inspired the Taliban: after all, the Afghan Islamist group believed that by persisting in its terror war it could wear down the Americans, just as Hamas—in its own understanding—drove Israel out of the Gaza Strip with the second intifada. The U.S. retreat from Afghanistan will now relay a similar message to Palestinian jihadists:

While the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan was good news for extremists, it was bad news for moderate Arabs amenable to the West. Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and their supporters have been vindicated in their longstanding ideological claims that negotiations with Israel are futile. Their conclusion is that patience pays off and that only mukawama, or [armed] resistance, can defeat the American-led Western alliance and dismantle the state of Israel.

It therefore comes as little surprise that Hamas was the first Islamist group publicly to congratulate the Taliban on its takeover of Afghanistan. . . . On August 17, 2021, Hamas’s leader Ismail Haniyeh told the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, “The demise of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is a prelude to the demise of the Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine.”

Hamas’s support for the Taliban also renders the Palestinian Authority’s relative silence on the issue noteworthy. The PA cannot publicly oppose the Taliban Islamists, since Hamas has become a more popular competitor for Palestinian public support in Gaza and the West Bank and has proven to be a more successful alternative as a “liberation movement.” [In other words], the Taliban’s takeover and the U.S. withdrawal have legitimized and empowered Hamas as the new standard for “resistance” against Israel’s existence as a democratic, Jewish-majority state in any borders.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Afghanistan, Hamas, Jihadism, Taliban

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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Read more at 19FortyFive

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