The Middle East Channel
Islamic State Militants Enter Sections of Kobani
Islamic State militants have entered Kobani (Ayn al-Arab), after besieging the predominantly Kurdish town near Syria’s border with Turkey for three weeks. Islamic State militants attacked the town from two sides with shells and heavy weapons and have overtaken three districts, raising their signature black flag on buildings and hills. Street clashes are continuing in ...
Islamic State militants have entered Kobani (Ayn al-Arab), after besieging the predominantly Kurdish town near Syria’s border with Turkey for three weeks. Islamic State militants attacked the town from two sides with shells and heavy weapons and have overtaken three districts, raising their signature black flag on buildings and hills. Street clashes are continuing in the outskirts and toward the center of Kobani. If the militant group seizes the town, it will have control over an expanse of territory from the Syrian city of Aleppo to Mosul and Fallujah in Iraq, and would put Islamic State militants closer to Turkey. Airstrikes, believed to have been conducted by the U.S.-led coalition, targeted Islamic State positions near the town late Monday through Tuesday. In Iraq, the U.S. military flew Apache helicopters for the first time on Sunday and Monday supporting government forces in targeting Islamic State militants near Fallujah, exposing U.S. troops to an increased risk from ground fire.
- An explosion Sunday night at or near Iran’s Parchin military complex killed at least two people.
- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the group would protect Turkey from attacks or spillover from the Syrian conflict.
- Clashes broke out Tuesday in Istanbul and at least six other cities in Turkey between police and hundreds of demonstrators protesting the advance by Islamic State militants on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani.
- The Egyptian military reported troops killed 16 militants from Ansar Beit al-Maqdis and arrested four leading members of the group during an offensive in Sinai Tuesday.
- Israel summoned the Swedish ambassador on Monday to protest the announcement by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven that Sweden would recognize a Palestinian state.
Arguments and Analysis
‘Libya’s Legitimacy Crisis‘ (Frederic Wehrey and Wolfram Lacher, Foreign Affairs)
"Libya’s chaos has been variously portrayed as a contest between Islamists versus more secular factions; between younger ‘revolutionaries’ versus older technocrats and military officers of Muammar al-Qaddafi’s regime; or between two rival towns in the west, Misrata and Zintan. Libya’s conflict is all these things. At its core, however, the fighting is about two centers of power — consisting of town-, tribe-, and militia-based networks — vying for the mantle of legitimacy in a country devoid of any workable institutions. And therein lies the conundrum. Over the past six months, these multiple factions have coalesced into two rival camps that have each staked equal claims to authority."
‘Egypt in Focus: President Sisi in Power‘ (EgyptSource, Atlantic Council)
"Gaining a new president roughly five months ago, Egypt’s domestic and foreign policies are slowly beginning to take shape. An energy crisis, subsidy cuts, and a grand megaproject remain at the forefront of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s economic policy, while his foreign policy focuses on alliances with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and mending US-Egypt relations."
‘Turkey’s ISIS Crisis‘ (Sinan Ulgen, Project Syndicate)
"But there is more behind Turkey’s reticent response to the coalition. Turkey fundamentally disagrees with the US in its interpretation of the threat that the Islamic State poses – and how to address it. Simply put, whereas the US is approaching the Islamic State as the Middle East’s most pressing problem, Turkey views the group as a symptom of deeper pathologies.
According to this view, any campaign that focuses exclusively on destroying the Islamic State will do nothing to prevent the emergence of similar threats in the near future. And, unlike the US, Middle Eastern countries and their neighbors cannot decide to ‘pivot’ away from the region when the consequences of their poorly designed interventions become too unruly.
— Mary Casey