Israel’s Gaza Dilemma Is Now America’s Afghanistan Dilemma

Having seized control of most of Afghanistan during the U.S. withdrawal, the Taliban now faces the challenge of governing. Washington, for its part, must confront a problem similar to the one faced by Israel in Gaza, and by much of the West in Lebanon: how to deal with a terrorist group that controls a sizeable territory? Colin Clarke writes:

In Afghanistan, the international community is in a lose-lose position—the country’s best chance for stability, at least for the time being, depends on the Taliban providing effective governance. But to do so, it requires significant cash infusions and development assistance. The European Union recently pledged more than $1 billion in an effort to stave off economic and humanitarian disasters in the near term. In some ways, the Taliban is holding the international community hostage. If countries help the Taliban, they are cementing the legitimacy of a ruthless insurgent group inextricably linked to some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists. But if countries eschew aid and Afghanistan collapses, it will lead to a massive humanitarian disaster and a civil war that could attract foreign terrorist fighters recruited to bolster the ranks of groups such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

Conventional wisdom holds that once terrorist groups are forced to govern, they become more pragmatic as they contend with the realities of trash collection and the other mundane responsibilities of running a country. Yet as Hamas has proved, this does not necessarily mean that a group will grow less radical over time. Hamas first sat for elections in 2006, but in the fifteen years since, it has kidnapped Israeli soldiers, fired rockets at civilian populations, and launched suicide attacks.

After two decades of a global war on terrorism, Washington and its allies are understandably suffering from counterterrorism fatigue. But walking away from weakened states as they are co-opted by terrorist groups is a recipe for ongoing conflict and instability.

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Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Afghanistan, Hamas, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror

 

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf