Norman A. Bailey: ISIS may try to overthrow Abbas and Hamas, but Iran is not behind it
During the period preceding the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, when I was Director of National Security
Planning on the staff of the National Security Council in the Reagan White House, the then chief of
staff of the Lebanese army visited me in my office. He spread out a large map of Lebanon on my
conference table on which was traced a red line from the Lebanese-Israeli border to Beirut. He asked
me to tell the Israelis to follow that line and they would hit every Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon..
I did nothing of the sort, of course, for two reasons–it was not my business to suggest to the Israelis
how they should conduct their invasion and in any case I was sure that Israeli intelligence knew very well
where the camps were.
It was, however, a graphic indication of the hatred felt by the indigenous Lebanese at their
Palestinian interlopers, demonstrated bloodily a few weeks later with the massacre perpetrated by
the Lebanese Christian militia in the Palestinian Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. The Israeli army
at that time occupied Beirut but had noting to do with the massacre. It was blamed, nevertheless,
for letting it happen (!), I tell this story as a demonstration of how unwelcome the Palestinians have been
in the Arab middle east since they left what is now Israel in 1948-49. They have not been offered
citizenship anywhere and usually cannot work outside their camps, being sustained entirely by
a special United Nations refugee agency established just for them and separate from the overall
U.N. refugee authority. Most recently the Syrian army destroyed the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp
after denying food and medicine to the inhabitants. Amazingly the Israelis were not blamed for
The map in question, incidentally, can be consulted in the Norman A. Bailey archives in the
Reagan Presidential Library.
There is no reason for Islamic State (IS) to accept or need Iranian support in order to recruit
in the Palestinian camps where they operate. they have their own ample sources of income and
Iranian interference would hamper, not facilitate, their recruitment efforts. Surely the Palestinian
camps are and will be a fertile recruiting ground for IS. Young men, neither studying nor working
and having no prospect of doing either, will welcome the opportunity to join the IS forces.
IS is now infiltrating both the West Bank and Gaza. There is every possibility that IS will attempt
to overthrow both the Palestinian Authority (PA) government in the West Bank and the Hamas govern-
ment in Gaza. That possibility is what is fueling PA President Abbas’ current purge of any and all
possible rivals, including long-time faithful collaborators. Hamas is credibly reported to be
negotiating with Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia for an agreement involving Hamas’ renunciation
of terrorism and disarming of groups such as Islamic Jihad, in return for the ending of the Israeli/
Egyptian blockade and financial aid from the Saudis.
In Abu Dhabi, former West Bank security chief Dahlan is biding his time and preparing a
coup against Abbas backed by the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. This almost took place two
years ago but was forestalled by a hasty Abbas-inspired unity government with Hamas, which
has now fallen apart, with Hamas and Fatah at each other’s throats.
Like so much else in the MENA region today (Middle East North Africa) the whole IS, PA, Hamas
Israel, Egypt, Saudi, Gulf States, Jordan situation is extremely fluid and as always there are plots
within plots. Inevitably, some of the them will actually come to fruition.
To answer the question in the title of David’s submission, no, Iran is not supporting ISIS as
the new Palestinian Authority. The only regional country supporting IS is Turkey.
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