With Its Longtime Leader Dead, al-Qaeda Needs Iran More Than Ever

Although al-Qaeda and Iran sit on opposite sides of the Sunni-Shiite divide, and often denounce one another, they are not averse to cooperating. Osama bin Laden in fact noted in a 2007 memo that the Islamic Republic was his organization’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication.” With the death of bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Oved Lobel argues that the terrorist group’s entanglement with Iran may grow even deeper:

[T]he next in line for leadership—assuming he himself is still alive—is widely agreed to be al-Qaeda’s long-standing military chief Sayf al-Adl, who has been based in Iran for decades. If anyone can revive the organization’s fortunes, it is al-Adl, and with al-Qaeda officials now on notice that Afghanistan still isn’t safe for them, many may choose to relocate to Iran. The relationship between Zawahiri’s pre-al-Qaeda Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Lebanese branch Hizballah, began as early as 1991, eventually evolving into a deep partnership between al-Qaeda and Tehran.

This is where Israel could come into the picture. Almost exactly two years ago, Israel reportedly assassinated al-Qaeda’s then-number two, Abu Mohammad al-Masri, in the center of Tehran. . . . In recent years, Israel’s pervasive infiltration and agent network across Iran has allowed it to assassinate IRGC officials, military officers, nuclear scientists, and anyone else likely to pose a threat, including al-Qaeda leaders, practically at will.

As the U.S. seemingly has no similar network and would be very unlikely to conduct a strike directly on Iranian territory, it would have to rely once again on Israel’s agents to kill Sayf al-Adl if it became necessary to head off any potential attempts to reconstitute al-Qaeda there.

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Read more at Fresh Air

More about: Al Qaeda, Iran, U.S. Security, US-Israel relations, War on Terror

 

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism