Downgrading the American Military Liaison between Jerusalem and Ramallah Is a Mistake

For the past eighteen years, the U.S. security coordinator (USSC) has played an important role in mediating between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, making possible the cooperation that has allowed the IDF to stymie terrorism in the West Bank and prevent the Palestinian Authority (PA) from being toppled by Hamas or other groups. But because of 2017 legislation requiring the Pentagon to reduce its overall number of generals, the U.S. plans to replace the three-star general currently in the position with a colonel. Shira Efron and Ghaith al-Omari caution against such a move:

Since its establishment in 2005, the USSC has been one of the rare successes of U.S. Israeli-Palestinian policy. It helped rebuild the Palestinian security sector after the second intifada, elevated Israeli-Palestinian security coordination to unprecedented levels, and has advised the PA on security-sector reform. Part of this success can be directly attributed to the fact that the mission has been led by a succession of three-star U.S. generals, whose seniority allowed them access to civilian and military officials in Washington, Jerusalem, and Ramallah.

In a region where symbolism is highly important, where U.S. partners are anxious about being left behind, [it] should not be underestimated—nor should the negative symbolism of downgrading the mission. Beyond symbolism, the core aspects of the USSC’s mandate require engagement by a high-level officer.

In addition to mediation, the USSC needs to be of sufficient seniority to be able to engage on a peer-to-peer level with Palestinian and Israeli security and military leaders and their civilian superiors. Put bluntly, an American colonel would not command the requisite level of deference and would not be able to engage effectively either an Israeli or a Palestinian military leader, such as the IDF chief of staff, let alone relevant ministers.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, US-Israel relations

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism