The U.S. Should Sanction Gaza’s Iran-Backed Popular Resistance Committees

April 13 2022

In February, a spokesman for the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) boasted of his organization’s recent attacks on Israel, and promised that they would continue until “the land and the holy sites are liberated.” Since its founding in 2000, the PRC, which receives funding and other support from Tehran, has committed numerous acts of murderous terrorism. Joe Truzman notes that it has nonetheless never been subject to U.S. sanctions, and urges the Biden administration to designate it as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).

Designating the PRC as an FTO would block the group’s access to most banks around the world and allow federal law enforcement to seize its financial assets, including cryptocurrency wallets. In August 2020, the Justice Department announced its largest-ever seizure of terrorist-affiliated cryptocurrency accounts, including 150 belonging to Hamas, which had previously asserted that its cryptocurrency donations were “untraceable.”

Hindering the PRC’s access to funds might curtail its rocket attacks against the Israeli population.

Designating the PRC as a terrorist organization could [also] limit its access to web-hosting services and social-media platforms. The PRC uses two websites as well as several Telegram channels and Facebook pages to spread propaganda, including videos of attacks from the conflict last May. The organization also used these media to promote videos and statements made by the “Joint Operations Room,” a coordinating body comprising the PRC and numerous Palestinian factions, many of them under U.S. terror sanctions.

Finally, an FTO designation could help the U.S. government partner with social-media sites to eliminate the PRC’s access to their platforms, replicating the U.S. government’s previous work against Islamic State, Hamas, al-Qaeda, and many other terror groups.

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Read more at National Interest

More about: Iran, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy