Weekend long read

Our weekly round-up of Middle East related background reading.

1) At the FDD David May provides ‘A History of Anti-Israel Boycotts, From the Arab League to BDS’.

“The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, or BDS, is the most recent iteration of a century-old effort to attack the legitimacy and economic viability of the Jewish state and its precursors. Arabs initiated boycotts of Jewish businesses in the Holy Land in the early 20th century, with the goal of preventing the establishment of a Jewish state. The Arab League declared a comprehensive boycott in 1945, first to reinforce these efforts, then to reverse the outcome of Israel’s War of Independence. In other words, these countries sought the annihilation of the Jewish state. […]

American anti-boycott measures and inconsistent enforcement by Arab League member states convinced many companies to reject the boycott. The Arab League boycott lost further steam during the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in the 1990s, which saw the Palestinian Authority officially accept economic relations with Israel. When the peace process unraveled, however, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) revived the boycott.

Western activists and NGOs helped develop the campaign’s infrastructure, including the July 2005 “Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Against Israel,” from which the campaign takes its name.”

2) At the ITIC Dr Raz Zimmt discusses the ‘Implications of the Appointment of Mohammad Hossein-Zadeh Hejazi as the Deputy Commander of the Qods Force’.

“On January 20, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) appointed Seyyed Mohammad Hossein-Zadeh Hejazi to the position of the deputy commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force. Hejazi replaced Esmail Qa’ani, who was appointed as the commander of the Qods Force following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani. Hejazi is considered one of the most prominent officers in the IRGC as a whole and the Qods Force in particular. His appointment provides another sign of continuity, since Hejazi is a highly experienced operative deeply familiar with the Qods Force and its activities. Hejazi’s involvement in the Lebanese arena in recent years, and particularly the project to increase the precision of Hezbollah’s missiles, may assist Qa’ani in implementing the Qods Force’s missions on Iran’s western front, which are focused on Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria and the efforts to bolster Hezbollah’s capabilities. His role is particularly crucial given the fact that most of Qa’ani’s activities as the deputy commander of the Qods Force centered on Iran’s eastern front (Afghanistan and Pakistan) and not the Syrian and Lebanese front.”

3) Tim Michetti examines the ‘The Aramco Case’ at the Washington Institute.

“In late December, U.S. officials presented the UN Security Council with preliminary findings from their investigation into the September 14 attacks on Saudi Aramco oil facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais. According to Reuters, the report contained images of weapon debris from the attack, revealing components that were identical to those in known Iranian weapon systems. […]

Such findings raise questions about what Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council days earlier. On December 10, he said the UN was “unable to independently corroborate that the cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles used in [the Aramco] attacks are of Iranian origin”—a conclusion reached after the UN sent a team of investigators to Saudi Arabia to inspect the weapon debris. While the full details of the UN’s investigation will remain unclear until its final report is published, previous UN reports have found Iran complicit in the proliferation of military materiel in the region based on some of the same components recovered from the Aramco attacks.”

4) At the Long War Journal Joe Truzman documents the resurgence of attacks from the Gaza Strip using incendiary and explosive balloons.

“Since the beginning of last week, various militant groups in the Gaza Strip have resumed the launch of incendiary and explosive-laden balloons towards Israeli communities near the Gaza border. […]

The use of incendiary and explosive-laden balloons became a popular and low-tech method of conflict against IDF soldiers and Israeli communities near the Gaza border during most of 2018. Militants attach an incendiary device or IED at the end of a string which is tied to several helium-filled balloons. They repeat this with dozens of balloons and release them near the border with the intention they will fall on the Israeli side of the fence causing damage or casualties.”

More from Guest/Cross Post

Seumas Milne is Correct and Evil

While researching my last post on Seumas Milne, I came across this...
Read More