The Fight for the Palestinian Authority Presidency Is Underway

Sept. 2 2022

The eighty-six-year-old Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas draws his legitimacy from his victory in a 2005 election—the only such contest the PA has ever had. Despite his age and reports of ill health, he has shown no indication of plans to step down; however, he appears at long last to have designated a successor in the person of Hussein al-Sheikh, and the two have taken steps to get al-Sheikh elected head of Abbas’s Fatah party. Yoni Ben Menachem comments on the emerging situation:

Al-Sheikh is considered Abbas’s most loyal confidant, and senior Fatah officials say he promised to tend to the needs of Abbas and his family members after his retirement. Abbas’s two sons own a vast economic empire, part of it in the Palestinian Authority, and al-Sheikh vowed that no harm would come to it.

Fatah officials also say al-Sheikh intends to weaken two main rivals in the succession battle by removing them from the movement’s power centers in the internal elections. One is Tawfiq al-Tirawi, former head of West Bank Palestinian intelligence and a Central Committee member. A report by a PA investigative committee accused him of corruption and nepotism. Another candidate, Marwan Barghouti, is the architect of the terror of the second intifada, serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison.

Barghouti is a member of the Fatah Central Committee and a bitter adversary of Abbas and al-Sheikh. Nevertheless, Palestinian opinion surveys show that he has public support as Abbas’ possible successor.

[Moreover], the PA succession battle could escalate dramatically and violently. The Palestinian street fears stepped-up assassinations in the West Bank because al-Sheikh’s political rivals have armed militias in different locales.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Marwan Barghouti, Palestinian Authority

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