August 26, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Progressive Democrats Blast Palestinians over Crackdown on Critics - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
    Members of the "Squad" of progressive Democrats in the U.S., more commonly known for their criticism of Israel, have shifted their censure to the Palestinian Authority amid Ramallah's latest crackdown on rights activists and critics.
    On Saturday, the PA arrested 30 demonstrators protesting the death of PA critic Nizar Banat, who was beaten to death by PA security officers in June.
    A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. was "deeply disturbed" by the arrests and urged Ramallah to "conduct themselves in a professional manner, and authorities to strictly respect freedom of expression, the vital work of journalists, as well as the full rights of Palestinians to protest peacefully."
    See also Foreign Press Association in Israel Condemns Palestinian Authority over Treatment of Washington Post Journalists (Foreign Press Association)

Pentagon Highlights Support for Replenishing Israel's Iron Dome Defense System (U.S. Defense Department)
    U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Washington on Wednesday to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the strategic partnership and addressing regional security challenges together.
    Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks highlighted U.S. support for replenishing Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

Taliban Takeover Is a Boon for Cash-Strapped Iran - Benoit Faucon (Wall Street Journal)
    Iran this week restarted fuel exports to Afghanistan, with the Taliban providing critical dollars to the Iranian economy from its lucrative narcotics operations.
    The arrangement enables the Taliban, who also face international sanctions, to purchase basic commodities. With the Taliban desperate for oil and short on other trading partners - and Iran in need of cash - trade is expected swiftly to rise.

Coronavirus in Israel: Number of Serious Cases Stabilizes - Ido Efrati (Ha'aretz)
    According to Israel Health Ministry data released on Thursday, the number of serious coronavirus cases has begun to stabilize this week, as the number of fully vaccinated Israelis who suffer serious symptoms continues to decline.
    See also Data Shows Success of Third Corona Shot - Rossella Tercatin (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Channel 12 reported that the efficacy of the third corona vaccination was 95% against infection and 97% against serious symptoms after 16 days.

Palestinians Receive Coronavirus Vaccine from U.S. - Aaron Boxerman (Times of Israel)
    500,000 coronavirus vaccines from the U.S. reached the Palestinians on Tuesday through the COVAX international vaccine initiative.
    "We were pleased to provide 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to help save Palestinian lives," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted on Tuesday.
    300,000 doses are to remain in the West Bank, while 200,000 will be sent to Gaza, said PA Health Minister Mai al-Kaila.

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Lebanese Doctor Sentenced for Helping Palestinians Get Treatment in Israel - Phil Mercer (VOA News)
    Dr. Jamal Rifi, a prominent physician in Australia's Lebanese Muslim community, says he has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia in Lebanon for working with members of Sydney's Jewish community to organize treatment for Palestinians in Israeli hospitals.

Muslim Brotherhood TV: We Want to Remove Israel from the Map (MEMRI-TV)
    Turkey-based Egyptian TV host Sharif Abady said on the Muslim Brotherhood's Watan TV on Aug. 13, 2021:
    "We want to get rid of Israel in its entirety, the whole entity....We want to completely remove all those people from the map. We want to remove Israel from the map."

Millions in Syria, Iraq Losing Access to Water - Bassem Mroue (AP)
    Millions of people in Syria and Iraq are at risk of losing access to water and food amid rising temperatures and record low water levels due to lack of rainfall, international aid groups warned Monday.
    Those affected include 5 million in Syria who are directly dependent on the Euphrates River, while in Iraq, loss of access to water from the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers threaten at least 7 million.
    The drought is also disrupting electricity supplies as low water levels impact dams. Two dams in northern Syria, supplying power to 3 million people, face imminent closure.
    Severe water shortages have also hit Lebanon, where more than 4 million people face critical water shortages.
    Severe fuel shortages in Lebanon have also halted the work of thousands of private generators long relied on for electricity.

EU Delays PA Funding, Deepening Financial Crisis - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The European Union, the largest single donor to the Palestinian Authority, has delayed this year's funding until October.
    A PA official said that they were hoping to receive more than $200 million in foreign aid during the first six months of 2021, but had received less than $35 million.
    The official said: "The Arab countries, as you know, have not given us one dollar in the past year. We are now relying on the Americans and Europeans."

Economic Recession in the West Bank May Provoke Palestinian Unrest - Danny Zaken (Globes)
    The economic situation in the Palestinian Authority has been the most important factor in maintaining relative quiet in the territories in recent years.
    The private sector expanded, agriculture developed (partly because of growing cooperation with Israeli farmers), and the number of Palestinians working in Israel rose to 130,000.
    Towns in the Jenin, Tulkarm and Kalkilya areas saw income rise threefold due to Israel's Arabs regularly coming to shop there.
    But the Covid pandemic has brought a serious slowdown, with employment of Palestinians within Israel cut by 30-40%.
    The PA's GDP shrank by 11.5% in 2020, after modest rises in previous years, while unemployment has risen to 19% and double that among young people.
    Meanwhile, the PA received $500 million in external aid in 2020, down 20% from 2019 and the lowest amount in years.

Israeli-Arab Swimmer Wins Gold Medal in Paralympics - Gadi Zaig (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli-Arab swimmer Iyad Shalabi, 34, won the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke at the 2021 Paralympic Games on Wednesday in Tokyo.
    Israeli President Isaac Herzog phoned to congratulate Shalabi, saying, "We are all so proud of you....It is a great honor you have brought to the State of Israel."
    The Israeli Paralympic delegation in Tokyo includes 33 athletes competing in 11 sports.

Israel Aerospace Signs Radar Deal with German Navy - Danny Zaken (Globes)
    Israel Aerospace Industries has signed a deal worth 200 million euros to supply new radars to the German Navy to modernize the sensor technology of its F124 air defense frigates.
    "The Germans insisted on their need for radar that will provide a picture of the situation in the air and at sea and will warn about threats in both these theaters including long-range ballistic missile threats," said Eyal Shapira of the IAI's Elta division.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • New Israeli Leader Backs Hard Line on Iran - Patrick Kingsley and Isabel Kershner
    Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in an interview that in his first meeting with President Biden on Thursday, he would seek common ground on Iran and promised a new and constructive approach to containing Iran's nuclear program. Bennett said a new strategic vision on Iran would include strengthening ties with Arab countries opposed to Iran's regional influence and nuclear ambitions, taking diplomatic and economic action against Iran, and continuing Israel's clandestine attacks on Iran in what he called "the gray-area stuff."
        "What we need to do, and what we are doing, is forming a regional coalition of reasonable Arab countries, together with us, that will fend off and block this expansion and this desire for domination" by Iran. "We are the precise anchor of stability, of willingness to do the job to keep this area safer."
        With regard to the Palestinians, Bennett said, "This government will neither annex nor form a Palestinian state." The blockade of Gaza will remain as long as Hamas continues to arm itself and fire rockets at Israel. With regard to existing Jewish communities in the West Bank, "Israel will continue the standard policy of natural growth."  (New York Times)
  • Will Israel-U.S. Intelligence Cooperation on Iran Continue? - Julian E. Barnes, Ronen Bergman and Adam Goldman
    According to a cable sent this year by the outgoing CIA officer in charge of building spy networks in Iran, America's network of informers had largely been lost to Tehran's counterintelligence operations, which have stymied efforts to rebuild it. Israel has helped fill the breach, officials say, its robust operations in Iran providing the U.S. with streams of reliable intelligence on Iran's nuclear activities, missile programs, and on its support for militias around the region. The U.S. has other sources of information, including electronic eavesdropping by the NSA, but it lacks the in-country spy network Israel has.
        The two countries' intelligence services have a long history of cooperation and the Trump administration approved or was party to many Israeli operations in its shadow war against Iran. A key goal for Israeli Prime Minister Bennett when he meets with President Biden on Thursday will be to determine whether the Biden administration will continue to support Israel's covert operations against Iran's nuclear program, senior Israeli officials said.
        "The sharing of intelligence and operational activity between Israel and the United States is one of the most important subjects on the agenda," said Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevi Farkash, a former director of Israeli military intelligence. "Israel has developed unique capabilities for intelligence collection in a number of enemy countries, capabilities that the United States was not able to grow on its own and without which its national security would be vulnerable."  (New York Times)
  • Long-Term Ceasefire Talks Deadlocked as Hamas Makes Extreme Demands - Yaakov Lappin
    Col. (res.) David Hacham, an Arab-affairs adviser to seven Israeli defense ministers and a senior research associate at the Miryam Institute, told JNS that Hamas' refusal to come up with realistic proposals for a deal to release the remains of two IDF soldiers killed in the 2014 war, in addition to two Israeli civilians who entered Gaza, is the central impasse blocking a broader arrangement between Israel and Gaza. Israel has linked progress on this issue to progress on Gaza's reconstruction. Throughout the deliberations, Israel has ensured a constant humanitarian flow of basic goods, food and medical supplies into Gaza.
        Hacham explained: "Hamas is an enemy. It is guided, conceptually and ideologically, by a call for Israel's destruction. It does not recognize Israel. Hamas has not changed its ideology, concepts or objectives, and it can't change them." Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who founded Hamas in 1987, "told me, 'Our charter was drawn up by God. So humans cannot change our charter.'...For tactical reasons, it is willing to reach ceasefires, but not at the cost of recognition of Israel or acceptance of Israel."  (JNS)
  • U.S. Army Tests Iron Dome Defense System - Sommer Brokaw
    The U.S. Army has successfully tested its Iron Dome defense system, successfully engaging eight cruise missile surrogate targets in the first interceptions of live targets by U.S. soldiers, the army said Monday. (UPI)
        See also U.S. Army Decides Not to Buy Israel's Iron Dome Interceptor System - Jen Judson
    The U.S. Army has chosen Dynetics, owned by U.S. defense contractor Leidos, to build prototypes to counter drone and cruise missile threats, after holding a shoot-off that pitted Dynetics against an Israeli Rafael and U.S. Raytheon Technologies team. The Army is using Iron Dome to serve as an interim solution for cruise missile defense.
        The Army wanted solutions that could tie into current and future versions of its Sentinel radar and be integrated with the service's Integrated Battle Command System. (Defense News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Insists It Is Not De-prioritizing the Middle East - Jacob Magid
    Senior Biden administration officials on Tuesday rejected the notion that President Biden is seeking to "de-prioritize the Middle East." "We are pursuing a very steady course, centered on achievable aims...and, first and foremost, support to our partners, and, of course, Israel being second to none," one official said. The administration has insisted that it will not unveil a peace plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and will not call on the parties to immediately return to the negotiation table for talks on final status issues. (Times of Israel)
        See also Briefing by Senior U.S. Officials ahead of Israeli Prime Minister's Visit (White House)
  • Israel Developing "Plan B" to Stop Iran from Getting Nukes - Judah Ari Gross
    The Israel Defense Forces is developing plans to strike Iran's nuclear program in light of the Islamic Republic's ongoing march toward the technology needed for an atomic weapon, and the stalled negotiations between Washington and Tehran on the matter, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi said this week. "The progress in the Iranian nuclear program has led the IDF to speed up its operational plans, and the defense budget that was recently approved is meant to address this." Kohavi added, "The IDF is operating constantly and in a variety of ways in order to minimize Iran's influence in the Middle East." 
        Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Wednesday: "The State of Israel has the means to act and will not hesitate to do so. I do not rule out the possibility that Israel will have to take action in the future in order to prevent a nuclear Iran. Iran is only two months away from acquiring the materials necessary for a nuclear weapon. We do not know if the Iranian regime will be willing to sign an agreement and come back to the negotiation table and the international community must build a viable 'Plan B' in order to stop Iran in its tracks towards a nuclear weapon."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

  • How Afghanistan Influences Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Iran's Approach to Israel - Kobi Michael and Dr. Yoel Guzansky
    The Taliban's rapid takeover of Afghanistan shocked the West. The U.S. has long been viewed as the most bitter foe of fundamentalist Islamist movements and the most significant obstacle to them realizing their vision. Therefore, necessary and justified as it may have been, the disturbing images of the U.S. withdrawal are proving a tailwind in jihadists' sails.
        In this neighborhood, the Taliban has many allies and fans, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, had a well-covered public meeting with Taliban leaders in Qatar several weeks ago. The leaders of both groups sat in the first row of dignitaries at the swearing-in of Iran's new president Ibrahim Raisi.
        When the leader of the Taliban thanked Hamas and PIJ for their statements of congratulations on the Taliban's victory, he made a point of tying the success in Afghanistan to the Palestinian effort to eradicate Israel and establish a Palestinian state from the river to the sea. What Hamas sees as the Taliban's tenacity and sacrifice resulting in a glorious victory over the U.S. may well destabilize Hamas' sense of responsibility and care. A sense of self-confidence and euphoria could affect Hamas' conduct.
        The writers are senior research fellows at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • After Afghanistan: A Letter to a Friend in the Gulf - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Ephraim Sneh
    Today, the world struggles with radical Islam, which aspires to impose its radical interpretation of Islam on all Muslim nations, and in the future, on the entire world. It does not believe in sharing power; it only considers its absolute rule as stability. Therefore, the battle against Islamic extremism cannot end in compromise, but only in a decisive triumph. This requires a forceful struggle, including the use of military force.
        You and I, both citizens of loyal U.S. allies, are not in a position to preach to the president of the United States where to send his soldiers to fight. However, the American president is no longer in a position to preach values to Middle Eastern rulers such as Egypt's Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi or Saudi Arabia's Mohammad Bin Salman. He who has given up on the war on radical Islam must allow those who still fight it to act as they see fit.
        Yes, my friend, we remain here in the Middle East, facing violent religious extremism. Pro-Iranian militias are aggressively taking over Iraq and Syria. Yemen has become a missile base for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. And in this region, we must survive. We have nobody to rely on other than ourselves. We together, alongside Egypt and Jordan, create a new balance of power in the Middle East, which grants us security and can provide the young generation across the Middle East with a different future.
        The writer, a former deputy minister of defense, is chairman of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue at Netanya Academic College. (Ynet News)
  • The American Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Lessons and Ramifications for Israel - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilead
    The rapid military takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban constitutes an expression of the failure of "nation-building" by the U.S.  Against this backdrop, the Israeli perspective - that preferred stability over externally "implanting" democracy and a liberal value set on countries of the region - was revalidated. Thus, Israel must continue to support moderate and monarchic Sunni regimes, particularly in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Even if these regimes are not democratic, they still curb the forces of political Islam, fight against what remains of ISIS, and, like Israel, are disturbed by the growing shadow of Iranian influence and Shiite terrorism.
        It is imperative that the Biden administration dispel criticism about the weakness of American backing to prevent further inclination of the Arab states to appease Iran in what is perceived as a U.S. exit from the region. The U.S. must take determined action on the ground to pre-empt Iran's malign behavior throughout the region. (Institute for Policy and Strategy-IDC Herzliya)
  • Jihadis Sense U.S. Weakness - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Commenting on the speedy Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Arab political analysts have no doubt that the region is headed toward a new era of extremism and terrorism. Iranian-backed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad said that they were emboldened by the "defeat" of the U.S. and called for stepping up the fight against Israel.
        "We are witnessing the creation of a malicious momentum to revive the extremist Islamists again, and no party will be spared from this momentum, and we, the Arabs, in particular, the Gulf states, will be targeted," wrote Saudi writer Mishary Dhayidi. "Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for all fundamentalists and terrorists, from the Muslim Brotherhood to al-Qaeda," said Saudi political analyst Abdullah Bin Bijad Al Otaibi.
        Osama Saraya, former editor of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, said: "We, the Arabs, are the most affected by all terrorist and extremist movements. We need to prepare for what is to come from Afghanistan.... We must not wait for assistance from the West or from the Americans."  (Gatestone Institute)
  • Will There Be a BDS Movement Against the Taliban? - Dan Schnur
    The UN Human Rights Council, which usually devotes most of its time to criticizing Israel for defending itself against terrorist attacks, has called an emergency meeting to examine human rights abuses committed by the Taliban during their takeover of Afghanistan.
        It's exceedingly improbable that the Council would shift their focus from the imagined transgressions of Israel to the actual atrocities taking place in Afghanistan. But if the leading voices in the BDS movement were so inclined, the Taliban's rampage of violence, misogyny and hate-mongering could present them with an opportunity to demonstrate their concerns about human rights.
        The much more likely outcome is that while the Taliban destroys a country, terrorizes its people and subjugates its women, the BDSers will remain silent. Then they will return to their hypocritical work of singling out the State of Israel and its people.
        The writer teaches political communications at UC Berkeley, USC and Pepperdine. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

  • Other Issues

  • As the U.S. Steps Out of the Middle East, It Must Help Israel Step Up - John Hannah and Michael Makovsky
    Israel has the Middle East's most powerful military. Its intelligence service is arguably the world's best. It's a scientific superpower and global leader in cutting-edge technologies central to the future of U.S. national security, including missile defense, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. Israel's assessment of the region's greatest threats mirrors Washington's. Israel's government and people are viscerally pro-American. It has become a strategic pillar of the West, countering American adversaries and bolstering American friends.
        Israel is the only country undertaking sustained operations to thwart Iran's regional expansionism, conducting thousands of strikes against Iranian-linked targets in Syria. Its operatives have repeatedly penetrated Iran's nuclear program, stealing its most guarded secrets, blowing up key facilities, and eliminating the mastermind of its weapons program.
        Israel helps Egypt contain the Islamic State in the Sinai. Its military and intelligence cooperation are essential to Jordan's stability. Increasingly, Israeli security cooperation has quietly extended to vulnerable U.S. allies in the Gulf, bolstering their ability to manage threats from Iran and Islamist terror groups.
        After spending trillions fighting unsuccessful Middle Eastern wars, increasing aid to Israel - even doubling it - to enable it to counter serious threats to U.S. interests in a still-critical region is a downright bargain.
        John Hannah, a former national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, is a senior fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA). Michael Makovsky, a former Pentagon official, is president and CEO of JINSA. (The Hill)
  • A New Israeli Prime Minister Visits the White House - David Makovsky
    The growing sense that the new Iranian government is not interested in a return to the nuclear deal means that the U.S. and Israel need to be concerned about an expedited Iranian timetable to move forward with its nuclear program under Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi without the constraints of any agreement.
        In the aftermath of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will be the first foreign visitor to the White House. Given Israel's reputation as being tough on terror, an expression of confidence from Bennett that the U.S. is a steadfast ally is likely to win him some gratitude from an administration that has been jolted by developments in Kabul. It would also be a rebuke to the new narrative that the U.S. has given up fighting extremism.
        The writer, a former senior adviser to the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, is director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (The Hill)
  • Hamas: Thrown Out of Saudi Arabia into the Arms of Iran and the Taliban - Nadav Shragai
    Last week Saudi Arabia, which used to be an economic paradise for members of al-Qaeda and Hamas, sentenced 64 Hamas operatives to prison. Among them is Dr. Mohammed Al-Khudari, 80, who headed the Hamas delegation to Saudi Arabia for 30 years and who has now been sent to prison for 15 years. Only two decades ago, 60% of Hamas' budget came from Saudi sources and millions were handed over to families of suicide bombers. Today, from Israel's perspective, Saudi Arabia has been moving from an enemy state and supporter of terrorism to an entity that is a loyal member of the axis against Iran and its satellites.
        Hamas has now become an open ally of Iran. Hamas' representative in Yemen, Moaz Abu Shamala, recently met with Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a member of the Houthis' Supreme Political Council, who are allies of Iran and enemies of Saudi Arabia. Abu Shamala gave his Houthi hosts a shield of honor from Hamas in thanks for the Houthis' support for the Palestinians. Earlier this month, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Tehran and declared that Hamas would stand alongside Iran against any threat from Israel or America. As if to complete the picture, senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk congratulated the Taliban for its victory in Afghanistan. (Israel Hayom)
  • Nasrallah Is Turning Lebanon into Afghanistan - Baria Alamuddin
    Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah drapes himself in the robes of national savior for bringing ships full of Iranian diesel to Lebanese shores and invites citizens to shed tears of gratitude on behalf of our Persian benefactors. Nasrallah knows that his own officials are overseeing the smuggling of scarce Lebanese fuel across the border into Syria, which is why Lebanon is so desperately short of fuel in the first place.
        Nasrallah is Lebanon's supreme traitor. He is in the pay of a foreign nation, acting according to the destructive agenda of that nation, and boasting about doing so. Nasrallah menacingly warns that these tankers bearing Iranian oil should be considered sacrosanct Lebanese territory. Why is Nasrallah so much more concerned about the wellbeing of these ships than Lebanon itself? This is the man who let nearly 3,000 tons of explosives in Hizbullah-controlled warehouses blow up half of Lebanon's capital. Meanwhile, Israeli surveillance planes circle over Beirut while Nasrallah cowers in his underground bunker, using the entire Lebanese nation like a human shield.
        Each step Lebanon takes into Iran's poisonous embrace is another step away from Lebanon's Arab identity. Nasrallah is doing everything in his power to turn Lebanon into Afghanistan. Citizens these days just laugh at Nasrallah's ridiculous bluster that Israel will shortly collapse and the Muslim world will soon reach Jerusalem. The only thing likely to reach Jerusalem is Lebanon's petrol queue. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)

  • Weekend Features

  • Eichmann Was Turned In by Anti-Nazi Geologist, German Paper Reveals - Neta Bar
    Sixty years after Nazi arch-murderer Adolf Eichmann was captured by Mossad agents and brought to Israel for trial, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung has revealed the identity of the person who turned Eichmann in. German geologist Gerhard Klammer, who opposed the Nazi regime, worked with Eichmann at a building firm in Argentina after the war.
        Eichmann revealed his true identity to Klammer in the 1950s, and Klammer made multiple attempts to alert authorities in both Germany and Argentina. Associates of Klammer said Eichmann's true identity was an "open secret" in the German community in Argentina. Back in Germany in the 1960s, Klammer spoke with Fritz Bauer, the prosecutor responsible for the Eichmann case, who reached out to the Mossad. (Israel Hayom)
  • Turning Challenges into Opportunities: From Israel with Hope - Anthony Kila
    The Israeli experience shows us that with goodwill to plan and learn, anyone anywhere can achieve beyond what nature has given it. Israel is one land that is blessed with little in terms of natural resources. Circled by unfriendly neighbors, Israelis knew from the onset that they had to look inward.
        Today, Israel is one of the top five countries in the world that has enough food for its own people and leads the rest of the world in the development of cutting-edge solutions for high yielding farming. It is also sending out professionals, companies, and government envoys to help nations discover products, ideas, and innovations that will help them make better use of their resources to feed their hungry people. Israel has done all this while simultaneously dealing with issues of security, constant attacks, ideological opposition, and racial bias against it.
        The writer is Director of the Center for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS) in Lagos. (Guardian-Nigeria)

  • Defending his withdrawal decision, President Joe Biden claimed that al-Qaeda was "gone" from Afghanistan. Yet at the same time, the American and British security establishments spoke of al-Qaeda's continued presence in the country.
  • A UN report to the Security Council, submitted in June 2021, stated that "despite expectations for a reduction in violence, 2020 (the year of the U.S.-Taliban agreement on withdrawal) emerged as the most violent year ever recorded by the United Nations in Afghanistan."
  • A common Western assumption is the hope that withdrawal would reduce the hostility of the Taliban and their allies. But this is a misinterpretation of what motivated jihadist groups. In the Middle East, withdrawals strengthen their motivation.
  • The Israeli experience was identical: when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, Hamas won the Palestinian elections and took over Gaza from Fatah. Rocket attacks on Israel, after the Gaza withdrawal, increased by 500%.
  • To defeat the jihadist forces it was necessary to accompany withdrawal with actions that left no doubt that what happened was a defeat for them.
  • But it does not seem that President Biden will pursue such a strategy, leaving the West with an empowered al-Qaeda to fight against in the years ahead.

    The writer, former Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli Ambassador to the UN, is President of the Jerusalem Center.

        See also Taliban Takeover Prompts Fears of a Resurgent al-Qaeda - Eric Tucker
    With the rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces and rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, "I think al-Qaeda has an opportunity, and they're going to take advantage of that opportunity," says Chris Costa, senior director for counterterrorism in the Trump administration. "This is a galvanizing event for jihadists everywhere."
        In June, the Pentagon's top leaders said an extremist group like al-Qaeda may be able to regenerate in Afghanistan and pose a threat to the U.S. homeland within two years of the American military's withdrawal. (AP-Washington Post)
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