Weekend long read

1) At WINEP Matthew Levitt analyses ‘A Paris Reset on Hezbollah?’.

“Lebanon’s corrupt political system needs major reforms, but Hezbollah has indicated, unsurprisingly, that it will reject any changes that diminish its political status. Specifically, the group insisted in late September that it maintain control of key ministries in any future government. This demand cut against the work of French authorities seeking to help stabilize the country following the devastating port blast in early August. In his response, President Emmanuel Macron signaled a break from typical French passivity toward Hezbollah. He denounced the group’s attempts to pose as a legitimate political party while engaging in militant activity independent of the Lebanese state.”

2)  Oded Eran discusses political changes in Jordan at the INSS.

“In advance of the parliamentary elections in Jordan scheduled for November 10, 2020 King Abdullah has appointed Dr. Bisher al-Khasawneh, a close advisor, as Prime Minister. The new government was sworn in on October 12. In addition to the changes in the government and those likely to occur following the elections, the King has also changed the composition of the Senate, the other Jordanian legislative body. This will complete the shake-up in the Jordanian political system. The new system, however, will have to continue to confront longstanding problems, mainly economic, that were aggravated by the decade of effects from the “Arab Spring,” as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

3) At the Times of Israel David Horovitz looks at the record of Saeb Erekat.

“But PLO secretary-general Erekat has not only shown himself to be a malicious anti-Israel propagandist; he has also served as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s righthand man in pursuing a strategy profoundly damaging to his own people’s cause. Avowedly seeking Palestinian statehood, he and his boss nonetheless brushed aside prime minister Ehud Olmert’s 2008 peace offer; stayed away from talks for nine of 10 months when US president Barack Obama persuaded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt all new settlement building; and oversaw a diplomatic lawfare campaign designed to damage Israel’s standing in every conceivable international forum. Most recently, they preemptively rejected the Trump administration’s peace proposal, declined to reengage when the United Arab Emirates obtained the suspension of Netanyahu’s proposal to annex up to 30 percent of the West Bank, and instead castigated the UAE for plunging a “poison dagger” into the heart of the Palestinian cause.”

4) The ITIC provides the background to the US Treasury’s sanctioning of two Lebanese companies.

“On September 17, 2020, the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on two Lebanese companies, Arch Consulting and Meamar Construction. According to the US Department of the Treasury, this is because these companies are owned, controlled or directed by Hezbollah. In addition to these two companies, sanctions were also imposed on Sultan Khalifah As’ad, a Hezbollah Executive Council official who is closely associated with both companies.

The two sanctioned companies are part of an extensive network of commercial companies controlled or owned by Hezbollah. Those companies have two main goals: support Hezbollah’s military activity and make profits from projects and selling goods (mainly in medicine, fuel and construction) in order to finance Hezbollah’s civilian and military activity.”

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