Despite the Sunni-Shiite Divide, al-Qaeda and Iran Work Together

When the Obama administration negotiated its 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, it hoped doing so would foster a new Middle Eastern order in which Shiite Iran would use its power against Sunni jihadist groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State—relieving America of the burden of fighting them. This strategy rested on a number of false premises. Jonathan Schanzer explores one:

A photo, first posted on an anonymous Twitter account, circulated last week among terrorism watchers here in Washington. It received scant attention in the mainstream media. The now authenticated photo, dated 2015, shows three of al-Qaeda’s top leaders smiling casually. . . . Their location: Tehran. All three men served in key leadership positions for the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization. And all three men were apparently circulating freely in Iran.

The photo questions—yet again—the notion that al-Qaeda and the Islamic Republic were at odds. If anything, they appear to cooperate, even if Sunni-Shiite sectarian tensions prevent a full-blown alliance. American officials (mostly those advocating for a nuclear deal with Iran) have repeatedly and falsely asserted that the Iranian regime maintained an antagonistic relationship with al-Qaeda, placing members of the world’s most dangerous terrorist group under house arrest.

This assertion has been regurgitated by prominent beltway analysts such as Nelly Lahoud and Peter Bergen. Both wrote books recently, parroting lines proffered by U.S. officialdom, downplaying the ties between Tehran and al-Qaeda. Both got it wrong.

Earlier this year, [meanwhile], a federal judge found in favor of victims and families that sued Iran for providing “material support” to al-Qaeda, among other groups that perpetrated terrorist attacks against American servicemembers and civilians in Afghanistan.

Read more at FDD

More about: Al Qaeda, Barack Obama, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict