Popular Protest: Palestinian Leaders’ Greatest Fear?

Both the Palestinian Authority (PA), which rules the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules Gaza, have recently cracked down on journalists, arresting several in recent weeks for criticizing their respective governments; Hamas also incarcerated several activists trying to organize anti-Hamas demonstrations. Khaled Abu Toameh comments:

The latest crackdown on Palestinian journalists [likely] springs from the fear that the current wave of anti-corruption protests sweeping Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and other Arab countries may spread to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this week, Hamas security forces also arrested one of their own officers, Hussein Qatoush, after he posted a video on Facebook in which he complained about the dire economic situation in the Gaza Strip. In the video, Qatoush said he does not have money to pay for transportation from his home to work. . . . In the eyes of Hamas, . . . it seems that any Palestinian who dares to complain about the bad economy in the Gaza Strip is a “traitor” and a “security threat.”

Hamas’s latest measures are evidently aimed at preventing a repeat of the widespread demonstrations that erupted in the Gaza Strip last March. Organized by social-media activists, the demonstrators protested the high cost of living and new taxes imposed by Hamas and called for solving the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip, including the high rate of unemployment. The protests, which lasted for a few days, were quickly and brutally crushed by Hamas.

Hani al-Masri, a prominent Palestinian political analyst, believes that the current anti-corruption protests sweeping some Arab countries will reach the Palestinian territories. “It is certain that the Arab Spring will arrive, sooner or later, to Palestine,” he said. “The [ruling] Palestinian elite is mostly corrupt and tyrannical [or] incompetent.”

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Arab Spring, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian Authority

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security