The air force, allied with Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni’s Tobruk-based government, launched up to three airstrikes in Libya’s third-largest city hitting an air base, the port, and a steel factory.
- By Mary Casey-Baker<p> Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p>
Warplanes struck Libya’s port city of Misurata for the first time Sunday. The air force, allied with Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni’s Tobruk-based government, launched up to three airstrikes in Libya’s third-largest city hitting an air base, the port, and a steel factory. The strikes came after the air force issued an ultimatum to the Misurata-led Libya Dawn militias, following their attacks on the oil ports of el-Sidr and Ras Lanuf, as well as an attack on a Sirte power plant on Dec. 25. Rocket strikes ignited fires at el-Sidr, though the fires at three of five oil-storage tanks have been extinguished. According to officials, fire has destroyed about 850,000 barrels of crude, over two days of Libya’s output.
Syrian officials reported two suicide bombers targeted natural gas facilities in Homs province killing eight people. The Iraqi Interior Ministry reported a suicide bomber struck a funeral north of the capital of Baghdad Monday, killing 15 people. Iraqi forces, backed by Sunni militiamen, launched an offensive in the town of Dhuluiyah, north of Baghdad, Sunday, in a renewed effort to push out Islamic State militants. U.S. Central Command reported coalition forces conducted eight strikes in Syria, around Kobani (Ayn al-Arab), and five strikes in Iraq, near Sinjar and Mosul, Sunday against Islamic State militants.
- Palestinian officials said a final draft resolution will be submitted to the U.N. Security Council Monday calling for Israel’s withdrawal from Palestinian territories by the end of 2017 and a peace deal within a year.
- Bahrain has arrested Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of Bahrain’s main opposition movement, al-Wefaq, over accusations of “inciting hatred against the regime” according to his lawyer.
- Hamas blocked 37 young war orphans from Gaza from making a peace-building visit to Israel.
- Iran held a funeral Monday for Revolutionary Guards commander Brig. Gen. Hamid Taqavi, who was killed in the Iraqi town of Samarra while advising Iraqi troops in the fight against Islamic State militants.
Arguments and Analysis
‘Has the Kurdish Victory at Sinjar Turned the Tide of ISIS War?’ (Khales Joumah, The Daily Beast)
“What the people of Mosul now fear most is aerial bombardment of their own city. The memory of the haphazard bombing carried out by the Iraqi military is still fresh in their minds and they worry the same thing might happen again. Some of them are trying to find places where they might be able to shelter if it comes to this.
While it is true that at the beginning locals in Mosul welcomed ISIS as liberators, now they cannot leave even if they want to. All the roads into Iraqi Kurdistan and toward Baghdad are closed and now the road toward Syria is also blocked. Additionally ISIS is not allowing locals to leave for any length of time and many locals suspect that they will take human shields if they get any deeper into trouble.”
‘Bahrain’s Elections and the Opposition’ (Elizabeth Dickinson, Middle East Institute)
“The Sunni community is more politically aware and empowered than they were four years ago, when a Shi‘a-dominated opposition took to the streets in Arab Spring-inspired protests. Loyalists’ demands for better government services, more transparency in government, and a more accountable parliament will become the political priorities for the next four years—with potentially large political and economic dividends for the community.
The Shi‘i community, meanwhile, remains politically disenfranchised and subject to strict policing. Its members frequently report economic discrimination for public jobs. But because the opposition, led by the officially registered political society al-Wefaq, chose to boycott the elections, neither the government nor the international community will see an immediate reason to push for political concessions.”
‘With Caid Sebsi, Tunisia sets up its next phase’ (HA Hellyer, The National)
“Tunisia has changed and how the old guard engages with the new political landscape will be instructive. The political realities of the new Tunisia may mean that the old guard will have to moderate itself — and Mr Caid Sebsi has to deliver.
One could easily construct reasons to be wary of a Sebsi presidency. But the reality is this: Tunisia has gone through a remarkable transitional period and December 2014 marks the end of that period.
It also marks the beginning of a new phase, where everyone is locked into respecting a deeply significant constitutional document.”
— Mary Casey-Baker