Is a New Civil War about to Start in Lebanon?

The Syrian civil war has already spilled over into Lebanon, where it has mainly been confined to the northern part of the country. There, over the past few months, the al-Nusra Front—a local al-Qaeda affiliate—has made multiple attempts, supported by Lebanese Sunnis, to capture the crucial port city of Tripoli. Although the attacks have been repulsed thus far, Lebanon’s government is deadlocked and its military could easily fracture along sectarian lines. Jacques Neriah writes:

[O]ne cannot overestimate the importance of the fate of Tripoli to the Sunni jihadis. Its fall would mark the beginning of the disintegration of the Lebanese state as a nation-state and the awakening of the old sectarian fears that could provoke its implosion and partition into Christian-Maronite, Shiite, and Druze enclaves facing a Sunni entity related either to al-Qaeda (if conquered by al-Nusra) or to Islamic State. Such a situation would undoubtedly represent the beginning of a new civil war that could end with . . . a redrawing of the regional map already heavily transformed since August 2014 by the establishment of the Islamic State (IS) caliphate. The possible fall of . . . Kobani . . . in Syria would definitely fit the current scenario of establishing an IS nucleus from the Mediterranean to the very doors of Baghdad.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Al Qaeda, ISIS, Lebanon, Nusra Front, Syrian civil war

As Hamas’s Reign of Terror Endures, the International Community Remains Obsessed with Jews Living in the Wrong Places

On Thursday, foreign ministers of the G-7—the U.S., Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy—along with the EU, made an official “statement on the situation in the West Bank,” an area where they are very concerned, it appears, that too many Jews are dwelling. In particular, the G-7 condemned Israel’s decision to grant municipal status to five ad-hoc villages built without proper permits. Elliott Abrams comments:

I can see “condemning” murder, terror, kidnapping, and “rejecting” that legalization. Indeed in the next sentence they “reject the decision by the government of Israel to declare over 1,270 hectares of land in the West Bank as ‘state lands.’” Building houses should not be treated with language usually reserved for murder.

The statement then added complaints about the Israeli settlement program more generally, and about Israel’s decision to withhold some tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Why does Israel ever withhold such funds? Sometimes it is in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack. Sometimes it’s domestic politics. But it’s worth remembering something else: the Taylor Force Act, which became law in 2018 and stated that the “Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists, is an incentive to commit acts of terror.” Until those payments cease, most forms of aid from the U.S. government to the Palestinian Authority may not be made. The payments continue. It is not clear if the State Department is pressuring the Palestinian Authority to end them.

Such moral considerations are entirely absent from the G-7 statement. The statement may be correct when it says, “maintaining economic stability in the West Bank is critical for regional security.” But it should be obvious that ending the pay-for-slay program and rewards for terrorism is even more critical for regional security. It’s a pity the G-7 did not find time to mention that.

The statement, it’s worth noting, appeared on the U.S. State Department website.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Europe and Israel, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy, West Bank