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.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

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

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law