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

Dec. 30 2021

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

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship