Weekend long read

1) Following the recent launch of a funding campaign, the ITIC takes a look at ”The method for transferring donations to Hezbollah through the Islamic Resistance Support Association”.

“Hezbollah recently launched a campaign to raise money for its military activities. The campaign was waged by the Islamic Resistance Support Association (IRSA), Hezbollah’s main fund-raising institution. The campaign is waged in the Shi’ite communities in Lebanon and abroad at the beginning of every year. The funds collected are mainly used to buy weapons for Hezbollah operatives (through what is called the “equip a jihad fighter” project). The amount of money collected is small relative to Hezbollah’s overall budget, which is supplied by Iran, but Hezbollah needs the contributions in view of its financial difficulties and considers them very important.”

2) At the INSS, Michael Milstein reviews “Hamas’s “New Campaign” in Gaza, One Year Later”.

“The current campaign along the Gaza border, which began nearly one year ago, differs fundamentally from other struggles Israel has faced in this arena over the last decades, and consequently can be considered a “new campaign.” The struggle waged since March 2018 initially started with independent popular initiatives that were appropriated early on by Hamas, fine-tuned, and adapted to the organization’s needs and objectives, but a year into the campaign, Hamas cannot claim a stellar performance. The Gaza Strip is the most volatile of the arenas Israel currently confronts. While neither side has any interest in escalation before the next Israeli parliamentary elections, the situation could deteriorate – as it has in the past – due to ongoing friction and miscalculation. Hamas currently is dissatisfied with the scope of its understandings with Israel and their rate of implementation, and is therefore eager to continue the new campaign model to earn additional civilian achievements.”

3) At the Tablet, Armin Rosen takes a look at the organisation described this week by a BBC reporter as “a powerful lobbying group”.

“Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s controversial comments, repeatedly suggesting that the relationship between the United States and Israel is fueled by vast sums of lobbying money, have been condemned by several of her fellow Democrats. […]

The way AIPAC is talked about, you’d think they’d be a lobbying juggernaut, surely one of the largest in the nation’s capital.

Wrong again: For the period between 1998 and 2018, AIPAC didn’t make a dent in the Center for Responsive Politics’ list of the top-spending lobbying groups. The US Chamber of Commerce spent $1.5 billion during that span, with the National Association of Realtors coming in a distant second, at $534 million. In 2018, top spenders included Google parent company Alphabet, which spent $21.7 million in Washington, and Facebook, which shelled out over $12 million to lobbyists that year.”

4) Karim Sadjadpour discusses “The Return of Iranian Hard-Liners’ Favorite Moderate” at the Atlantic.

“…the perception of Zarif as a vulnerable moderate only makes him more valuable to Khamenei. Iran is perhaps the only country in the world simultaneously fighting three cold wars—with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States—and Khamenei manages these conflicts with two crucial tools. Soleimani serves as Khamenei’s sword, projecting Iranian hard power in the Middle East’s most violent conflicts. Zarif, in contrast, serves as Khamenei’s shield, using his diplomatic talents to block Western economic and political pressure and counter pervasive “Iranophobia.” The two men understand their complementary roles, and the division of labor between them: Soleimani deals with foreign militias, Zarif with foreign ministries.

Zarif has managed to effectively co-opt and convince many European officials and Iranian diaspora analysts and journalists, many of whom cover the foreign minister admiringly and take personal offense when he is criticized. Yet he could not have survived four decades as an official in an authoritarian regime had his fidelity to the revolution ever wavered.”

 

 

 

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