Report

Islamic State Claims it Shot Down Coalition Warplane

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a plane was downed near Raqqa, and the Jordanian military confirmed that one of its warplanes crashed in northern Syria, and that the pilot was captured.

TURKEY-SYRIA-CONFLICT-KURDS
A US-led coalition B1-b flies on November 13, 2014 over the Syrian city of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, as seen from the Turkish border village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province. A report issued on November 13 by the Norwegian Refugee Council and International Rescue Committee says Syrians are increasingly unable to escape their country's war as tougher policies in potential host nations are preventing them from taking refuge in the region and beyond. AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Islamic State militants claim they have shot down a warplane from the U.S.-led coalition over the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a plane was downed near Raqqa, and the Jordanian military confirmed that one of its warplanes crashed in northern Syria, and that the pilot was captured. The coalition has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria since September, and has regularly targeted Raqqa, which Islamic State militants have used as the de facto capital for their self-proclaimed “caliphate.” While the Islamic State claimed it shot down the aircraft with a missile, it is not clear if the plane was downed by the militant group or if it suffered a mechanical failure. The capture would be the first of a coalition pilot, and the strike would be the harshest yet on the U.S.-allied forces.

Iraq

A suicide bomber killed an estimated 33 people at a military base in the town of Madain south of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad Wednesday. The attacker detonated explosives while among a group of pro-government Sunni militiamen, who are fighting Islamic State militants, and killed mostly militiamen and at least three soldiers, and wounded 55 others. Meanwhile, as the United States builds up forces in Iraq, authorized to serve in advisory and training roles, the U.S. government is additionally increasing the number of private contractors.

Headlines

  • The Israeli military struck targets in Gaza killing a member of Hamas after an Israeli patrol came under Palestinian sniper fire.
  • The United Nations reported hundreds of civilians have been killed since August in fighting in Libya as Foreign Minister Dayri said that without help, the country could become the next Syria, though rival groups have agreed “in principle” to a new round of peace talks.
  • Israel’s antitrust commissioner said he would recommend breaking up the partnership developing the Leviathan gas field, one of the world’s largest offshore gas fields.
  • Despite Qatar’s vows to improve conditions for workers building infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup, Nepalese migrants have died at a rate of one every two days in 2014.

Arguments and Analysis

Yemen’s Houthi Takeover’ (April Longley Alley, Middle East Institute)

“Undoubtedly, the Houthis have shaken a moribund transition process and opened new opportunities to upend the corrupt political economy. But they are also polarizing politics and compounding political and economic challenges. Saudi Arabia increasingly views them as Iranian proxies and has reportedly suspended the bulk of its financial assistance to Yemen. Support from the Kingdom has kept the country’s economy afloat to the tune of at least $4 billion since 2012. If they do pull the plug, it will almost certainly increase hardship for average Yemenis, undermine the new technocratic government formed in November, and raise the prospect of fiscal collapse in early 2015.

Inside the country, the Houthi takeover is galvanizing calls for southern independence. Separatists argue that recent events are further evidence that they cannot tie their political future to the north. They are betting that Saudi Arabia will eventually change its stance on unity and support their independence bid as a bulwark to a Houthi-dominated north. Most worrisome, by taking the lead in the fight against al-Qa‘ida, the Houthis are opening the door to a sectarian conflict that the country has never experienced. Yemen does not have a history of Shi‘i-Sunni violence—Zaydis, Shi‘i Muslims who form the majority in the far north, and Shafais, Sunnis who are the majority in the rest of the country, are close in religious practice and have lived relatively peacefully for centuries. Al-Qa‘ida, however, is explicitly framing the battle in sectarian terms and is using it as a recruitment tool. This dynamic is overlapping with historically grounded political tensions between the Zaydi highlands and the Shafai south in ways that could open new conflict dynamics.”

An Arab World Without Politics’ (Lina Khatib, Carnegie Middle East Center)

“What the Arab world is witnessing today is a dangerous combination of Agamben’s ‘bare life’ concept and Ranciere’s conceptualization of the absence of politics. New and established leaders are taking over, placing themselves above the rule of law, and asking their citizens to be grateful when their lives are spared. Non-free elections take place but are presented by governments as being representative of the will of the people. Government officials make loud statements about them working towards reaching consensus when the term is actually used to infer quashing difference. And whole generations of citizens are growing up not knowing that what they think is politics has nothing to do with the fundamental meaning of the word.”

Mary Casey-Baker

ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images

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