How Hamas Amassed Its Wealth

Hamas is now rated as the world’s second-richest terror group, just behind the oil-soaked Islamic State. It has amassed its wealth through smuggling, donations large and small, and protection rackets. Nor have its leaders missed the opportunity to line their own pockets. (The extensive holdings of Khaled Meshal, the head of Hamas, include several high-rise buildings in Qatar.) Ultimately, according to Moshe Elad, the terror group’s fortune is the product of a political culture of corruption and patronage:

The race to obtain powerful positions in the Palestinian Authority began in 1994, with the implementation of the Oslo accords. The government that emerged from that process looks more or less like that of most Arab regimes: it is centralized and corrupt, it lacks effectiveness, bribery plays a very important role in society, and nepotism is prevalent, with just a few families or relatives benefiting from state monopolies on basic services and commodities. . . .

By June 2007, after Hamas took over Gaza through a violent coup, more significant amounts of money began to arrive from the same Islamic countries, reflecting the donors’ desire that Gaza should be run according to Islamic sharia law. A huge fundraising campaign was also launched in Western countries, mainly the United States and Europe, which raised hundreds of millions of dollars that passed through the hands of Dr. Mousa Abu Marzook, the chair of the Hamas political bureau at that time.

According to a Texas federal court record from 2003, Abu Marzook was convicted of illegal funds transfer to every single district in the West Bank, from Jenin in the north to Hebron in the south. Beginning in the 1990s and during every fiscal year, he has transferred millions of dollars, claiming that these funds were for welfare and relief projects while in fact they have been used to compensate suicide bombers’ families and to rehabilitate wounded and invalid terrorists.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Corruption, Hamas, Khaled Meshal, Palestinian Authority

If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy