Setting the Record Straight on Saddam Hussein and Terrorism

July 12 2016

On Friday, a speech by Donald Trump revived the old question of the Iraqi dictator’s support for terrorism. As Kyle Orton points out, in addition to his links to the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, murkier ties to al-Qaeda, and well-known policy of providing money to the families of suicide bombers, Saddam Hussein also harbored and abetted some of the most notorious Palestinian terrorists:

[The Palestinian] Sabri al-Banna, [better known as] Abu Nidal, had many paymasters and agendas in his career as the most infamous international terrorist before Osama bin Laden, but in preparation for that career and for long stretches of it he was sheltered by Saddam. . . .

Al-Banna departed Iraq to Assad’s Syria in 1979, but returned to Saddam’s realm in March 1982. . . . It was from Baghdad that al-Banna attempted to murder Shlomo Argov, Israel’s ambassador to London, sparking Israel’s invasion of Lebanon . . .

[In addition], Muhammad Zaydan (Abu Abbas) led the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) and directed the taking of hostages aboard the Achille Lauro on October 7, 1985. During the assault, the PLF shot and killed the wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer because he was a Jew, and threw his body overboard. When Italian authorities caught up with Zaydan they had to release him because he was traveling on an Iraqi diplomatic passport—despite being neither Iraqi nor a diplomat. Zaydan [then] moved to Saddam’s Iraq and remained there until he was captured five days after the fall of Saddam’s regime.

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Read more at Syrian Intifada

More about: Al Qaeda, Donald Trump, First Lebanon War, Palestinian terror, Politics & Current Affairs, Saddam Hussein

 

Will America Invite Israel to Join Its Multinational Coalitions?

From the Korean War onward, the U.S. has rarely fought wars alone, but has instead led coalitions of various allied states. Israel stands out in that it has close military and diplomatic relations with Washington yet its forces have never been part of these coalitions—even in the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraqi missiles were raining down on its cities. The primary reason for its exclusion was the sensitivity of participating Arab and Muslim nations. But now that Jerusalem has diplomatic relations with several Arab countries and indeed regularly participates alongside them in U.S.-led joint military exercises, David Levy believes it may someday soon be asked to contribute to an American expedition.

It is unlikely that Israel would be expected by the U.S. to deploy the Golani [infantry] brigade or any other major army unit. Instead, Washington will likely solicit areas of IDF niche expertise. These include missile defense and special forces, two areas in which Israel is a world leader. The IDF has capabilities that it can share by providing trainers and observers. Naval and air support would also be expected as these assets are inherently deployable. Israel can also provide allies in foreign wars with intelligence and cyber-warfare support, much of which can be accomplished without the physical deployment of troops.

Jerusalem’s previous reasons for abstention from coalitions were legitimate. Since its independence, Israel has faced existential threats. Conventional Arab armies sought to eliminate the nascent state in 1948-49, 1967, and again in 1973. This danger remained ever-present until the 1978 signing of the Camp David Accords, which established peace between Egypt and Israel. Post-Camp David, the threats to Israel remain serious but are no longer existential. If Iran were to become a nuclear power, this would pose a new existential threat. Until then, Israel is relatively well secured.

Jerusalem’s new Arab allies would welcome its aid. Western capitals, especially Washington, should be expected to pursue Israel’s military assistance, and Jerusalem will have little choice but to acquiesce to the expeditionary expectation.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: IDF, U.S. military, U.S.-Israel relationship