When Will Iran Be Sanctioned for its Continuing Relationship with al-Qaeda?

Feb. 11 2019

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body that identifies countries assisting terrorist groups, will convene in Paris next week; among the items on its agenda are Tehran’s previous noncompliance with its directives. Toby Dershowitz and Serena Frechter urge FATF to initiate countermeasures against the Islamic Republic over its support for al-Qaeda, which has gone on for decades:

Last week, a little-noticed map published in the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community identified Iran as a place where al-Qaeda “affiliates, elements, or networks” operate. . . . Iran’s relationship with al-Qaeda began in the early 1990s, when their [respective] leaders, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, met in Sudan and reached an “informal agreement to cooperate.” Iran then provided al-Qaeda with the training, material, and inspiration for attacks, including the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. Together, these attacks killed 224 people, including twelve Americans.

Senior al-Qaeda operatives have also coordinated attacks from inside Iran, where leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) . . . have provided them with travel documents and safe haven. In Iran, Osama bin Laden’s son, Sa’ad bin Laden, allegedly planned attacks in Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in 2002-2003 that together killed more than 50 people, including twenty Europeans.

Such cooperation continues today. State Department [annual reports have] noted, beginning in 2012 during the Obama administration and continuing through the most recent report, that “Iran has allowed [al-Qaeda] facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling [al-Qaeda] to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.” Likewise, in July 2018, the United Nations Security Council released a report highlighting al-Qaeda’s role in Iran. Based on intelligence from UN member states, the report concludes that al-Qaeda leaders in Iran “have grown more prominent, working with [the current al-Qaeda leader] Ayman al-Zawahiri and projecting his authority more effectively than he could previously.” . . .

FATF should keep Iran on its blacklist and reinstate countermeasures against Tehran to stymie Iran’s terrorist activities and protect the global financial system.

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More about: Al Qaeda, Iran, Iran sanctions, Politics & Current Affairs

At the UN, Nikki Haley Told the Truth about Israel—and the World Didn’t Burn Down

April 22 2019

Although Nikki Haley had never been to Israel when she took the position of American ambassador to the UN, and had no prior foreign-policy experience, she distinguished herself as one of the most capable and vigorous defenders of the Jewish state ever to hold the position. Jon Lerner, who served as Haley’s deputy during her ambassadorship, sees the key to her success—regarding both Israel and many other matters—in her refusal to abide by the polite fictions that the institution holds sacred:

Myths are sometimes assets in international relations. The fiction that Taiwan is not an independent country, for example, allows [the U.S.] to sustain [its] relationship with China. In other cases, however, myths can create serious problems. On Israel–Palestinian issues, the Trump administration was determined to test some mythical propositions that many had come to take for granted, and, in some cases, to refute them. Haley’s prominence at the UN arose in large part from a conscious choice to reject myths that had pervaded diplomacy on Israel–Palestinian issues for decades. . . .

[For instance], U.S. presidents were intimidated by the argument that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would trigger violent explosions throughout the Muslim world. President Trump and key colleagues doubted this, and they turned out to be right. Violent reaction in the Palestinian territories was limited, and there was virtually none elsewhere in Arab and Islamic countries. . . .

It turns out that the United States can support Israel strongly and still work closely with Arab states to promote common interests like opposing Iranian threats. The Arab street is not narrowly Israel-minded and is not as volatile as long believed. The sky won’t fall if the U.S. stops funding UN sacred cows like the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA). Even if future U.S. administrations revert to the policies of the past, these old assumptions will remain disproved. That is a valuable accomplishment that will last long after Nikki Haley’s UN tenure.

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More about: Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, United Nations, US-Israel relations