Fighting among Palestinians in Lebanon May Benefit Hamas

Last month, after weeks of clashes in the Palestinian city of Ein el-Hilweh in Lebanon, the parties reached a ceasefire. The fighting, which left 31 dead and led thousands to flee, pitted the Fatah faction of the PLO—which is led by Mahmoud Abbas and governs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank—against Islamist groups. Nada Homsi explains:

The clashes began when a Fatah gunman attempted to assassinate a leader of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jund al-Sham group, according to security sources within the camp. The next day, Islamist militants killed the Fatah security commander Abu Ashraf al-Armoushi and four bodyguards. Fatah retaliated with force and attempted to expel militant groups from the camp.

By longstanding convention, the Lebanese state does not have jurisdiction over Palestinian refugee camps, leaving residents to handle security. In Ein el-Hilweh, radical Islamist groups like Jund al-Sham have exploited the lack of state oversight and loose internal security to establish their influence, which Fatah has been unable to subdue. According to Fatah and Hamas officials, the groups are made up of Lebanese, Palestinians, and Syrians, and are divided ideologically.

Hamas’s status as a relatively moderate Islamist party has allowed it to play a mediating role between hardline militants and Fatah. . . . But some in Fatah—including the senior official Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of the group’s central committee—have accused Hamas of playing a role in the fighting, which Hamas denies.

Meetings between Fatah and Hamas to discuss the clashes seem to have given Hamas a larger role in administering security in Ein el-Hilweh, which was traditionally primarily the job of Fatah’s National Security Forces.

Read more at The National

More about: Fatah, Hamas, Lebanon, Palestinians

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security