Weekend long read

1) At WINEP, David Schenker and Assaf Orion discuss ‘How to Avoid Another Lost Year for UNIFIL’.

“Nearly forty-five years since this “interim” force was established, the Lebanese government takes UNIFIL for granted, Hezbollah essentially holds it hostage, and tensions are once again mounting along the Israel-Lebanon frontier—with more arms, more friction, and greater potential for catastrophic war. Yet the Security Council continues to resist changing the force’s mandate, citing concerns about destabilizing an already tenuous status quo. Hence, UNIFIL persists as an unchanging, increasingly ineffective bureaucratic behemoth. At this point, even if the force were to implement its mandate, it might not be able to prevent war.”

2)The ITIC documents Palestinian Authority denial of Jewish history in Jerusalem.

“The Supreme Committee for Jerusalem Affairs, under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority (PA), organized a conference in Al-Bireh entitled “Property Documentation and the Historical Status of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The event was attended by clerics, researchers, historians and foreign diplomats. In his opening remarks, Ahmed al-Ruweidi, Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser on Jerusalem affairs, stated that the conference was being held following an express order from Mahmoud Abbas to examine the legal status of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque based on historical document. He noted that to this end, a team of expert researchers from the Jerusalem Affairs Unit at Mahmoud Abbas’s office was formed, and spent several months examining and analyzing documents from Turkey, Jordan, and Britain.”

3) At the INSS, Orna Mizrahi and Yoram Schweitzer give their analysis of ‘Hezbollah’s Political Challenges following the Elections in Lebanon’.

“The results of the parliamentary elections in Lebanon reflect changes in the political map, in particular the weakening of the Hezbollah camp and the growing strength of its opponents. However, the opposition camp is still weak and divided, and thus the results do not enable it to form the stable and functioning government that Lebanon so desperately needs. While Hezbollah succeeded in maintaining its support in the Shiite sector, the weakness of its allies and the growing criticism of the organization present it with new challenges. In order to maintain its dominant position and influence, it has intensified its efforts to position itself as a responsible national actor and the protector of Lebanon, whose main concern is to relieve the country’s severe economic plight and maintain its sovereignty and its resources in the face of its enemies, led by Israel.”

4) At Spiegel International, Jörg Diehl, Mohannad al-Najjar and Christoph Reuter report on Syria’s drug trade.

“Syria, it would seem, has transformed into a Mediterranean narco-state. For the economically downtrodden and still largely destroyed rump state under the leadership of Assad, the Captagon business has become its most important export, says Joel Rayburn, the former U.S. special envoy for Syria. “I believe the Assad regime would not survive the loss of the Captagon revenues,” he says. And it’s not like the Syrian regime merely stands aside to allow the ongoing production and export of the drugs, he says. “They are the cartel.””

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