Making Sense of the Most Recent Wave of Terror in Israel

In examining the recent upsurge on deadly attacks on Israelis civilians, Jonathan Spyer notes that it is normal for such incidents tend to increase during Ramadan, though usually they take the form of street harassment or low-grade violence. He further notes that “this atmosphere of tension is neither incited nor controlled by any organized political or religious element,” but rather spreads in a loose fashion via social media. Finally, he argues that “this wave of attacks has no coherent political aim and is wedded to no identifiable political process.” In that way, he says, it reflects the “salient fact not only of Palestinian but also of broader Sunni politics in the Levant, Iraq, and the surrounding areas.”

Over the past two decades, every political project emerging from among this population has gone down to failure. The second intifada of 2000-04, the short-lived Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt of 2012-13, the 2012-18 Sunni Arab insurgency in Syria, and the Islamic State “caliphate” of 2014-19 are the most significant mass political efforts by Middle Eastern Sunni Arab populations in recent years. All were defeated.

The result of these failures has not, however, been the emergence of a more pragmatic politics. Rather, a sort of inchoate, largely formless, rejection of current arrangements is identifiable. This rejection produces periodic episodes of violence but seems unlikely to affect larger structures of power.

In the case of Israel and the Palestinian territories, a familiar pattern has emerged. The Jewish and Arab populations are at near demographic parity. Efforts at partition going back nearly a century have foundered on the consistent unwillingness on the Arab side to accept the division of the land as the final settlement of claims. As a result of this rejection, combined with the inability on the Arab side of reaching its goals by force, the conflict remains in a kind of chronic state: unresolved but subject to more or less successful management.

Might the power of shared religious symbols eventually prove sufficient to unite [the now deeply splintered Palestinians]? If so, the result will be the return of this conflict to its acute form.

In contrast to this record of failure stand the Gulf monarchies (with the exception of Qatar) and Morocco, which appear to have embraced a program of religious moderation and normalization with Israel.

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Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: Arab World, Palestinian terror, Sunnis

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy