Is the Nusra Front Poised to Become a Sunni Hizballah?

A regional offshoot of al-Qaeda known as the Nusra Front currently controls a swath of territory that extends from northwestern Syria, through Lebanon, into the area east of the Golan Heights. Viewing Islamic State and Syrian rebel groups as rivals, it sometimes cooperates with them and sometimes attacks them. It has recently been fighting the Shiite Hizballah, which it may well hope to replace as the dominant Islamist militia in Lebanon. And then? Jonathan Spyer speculates:

It is . . . by no means impossible that Nusra could, at a certain point, turn its attention to Israel. Certainly, the current attempt by Palestinian organizations to refocus attention on their struggle through the prism of pan-Islamic concerns for the al-Aqsa Mosque makes such an outcome more likely. Nusra seems determined to emerge as a kind of mirror image of the Shiite Hizballah—combining an uncompromising jihadi ideology with tactical flexibility and an ability to work with its own public (Sunnis), rather than simply terrorize them into submission. Israeli and Western governments should be watching the organization very carefully.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Hizballah, ISIS, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Nusra Front, Syrian civil war

The Diplomatic Goals of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to the U.S.

Yesterday, the Israeli prime minister arrived in the U.S., and he plans to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, but it remains uncertain whether he will meet with President Biden. Nonetheless, Amit Yagur urges Benjamin Netanyahu to use the trip for ordinary as well as public diplomacy—“assuming,” Yagur writes, “there is someone to talk to in the politically turbulent U.S.” He argues that the first priority should be discussing how to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But there are other issues to tackle as well:

From the American perspective, as long as Hamas is not the official ruler in the Gaza Strip, any solution agreed upon is good. For Israel, however, it is quite clear that if Hamas remains a legitimate power factor, even if it does not head the leadership in Gaza, sooner or later, Gaza will reach the Hizballah model in Lebanon. To clarify, this means that Hamas is the actual ruler of the Strip, and sooner or later, we will see a [return] of its military capabilities as well as its actual control over the population. . . .

The UN aid organization UNRWA . . . served as a platform for Hamas terrorist elements to establish, disguise, and use UN infrastructure for terrorism. This is beside the fact that UNRWA essentially perpetuates the conflict rather than helps resolve it. How do we remove the UN and UNRWA from the “day after” equation? Can the American aid organization USAID step into UNRWA’s shoes, and what assistance can the U.S. provide to Israel in re-freezing donor-country contributions to UNRWA?

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship