Report

Hezbollah Missile Hits Israeli Military Convoy

Israel responded firing at least 25 mortal shells into southern Lebanon.

LEBANON-ISRAEL-CONFLICT HEZBOLLAH
Smoke from Israeli shelling billow from the Lebanese town of Al-Majidiyah on the Lebanese border with Israel on January 28, 2015. Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah claimed responsibility on Wednesday for an attack against a military convoy in an Israeli-occupied border area. AFP PHOTO / ALI DIA (Photo credit should read ALI DIA/AFP/Getty Images)

An anti-tank missile strike hit an Israel Defense Forces vehicle Wednesday injuring several Israeli soldiers in Har Dov, near the disputed Shebaa Farms area along the Lebanese border. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack, which appeared to be in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike in Syria that killed senior Hezbollah members. Israel responded firing at least 25 mortal shells into southern Lebanon, reportedly killing a Spanish soldier with the U.N. peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, according to the United Nations and Lebanese media. Following the strike on the IDF patrol vehicle, several mortar bombs hit Israeli army positions near the border and on Mount Hermon in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Also on Wednesday, Israel launched airstrikes on Syrian army artillery positions, in response to at least two rockets fired from Syria that hit the Golan on Tuesday.

Syria

Talks began Wednesday between Syrian opposition figures and representatives of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Moscow. Expectations for the meetings are low as they are being boycotted by the main opposition Syrian National Coalition. An opposition source said the figures in attendance would not immediately demand a transition government and the removal of Assad.

Headlines

  • Militants with purported ties to the Islamic State group have claimed responsibility for an attack Tuesday on a luxury hotel in Libya’s capital that killed at least nine people including a U.S. contractor.
  • Houthi fighters in Yemen released the president’s chief of staff, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, Tuesday and Houthi leader Abdel Malik al-Houthi called for a meeting between political factions.
  • Jordan has agreed to trade a convicted suicide bomber for an air force pilot held by Islamic State militants as Japan urged Jordan for help in securing the release of Kenji Goto following an alleged Islamic State video.
  • Opposition al-Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman denied charges of promoting to overthrow the government as his trial began Wednesday in Bahrain.

Arguments and Analysis

Yemen Conflict Alert: Time for Compromise’ (International Crisis Group)

“But now the Huthis may have pushed too far and become victims of their own unexpected success. Already, their post-September consolidation of power in Sanaa and rapid expansion along the Red Sea coast and southward from the capital has sparked resistance, especially in predominantly Shafai (Sunni) areas like Taiz and Marib. In the latter, where Islah-affiliated tribesmen are aligning with AQAP to defend their areas against Huthi advances, the conflict is taking on a dangerous sectarian tone previously not present in Yemen. Southern separatists wary of their fate under a Huthi-dominated north and sensing a political opportunity to unify their divided ranks within the umbrella Hiraak movement and possibly gain regional support from Saudi Arabia, have redoubled their calls for independence.”

Obama Cuts Off Syrian Rebels’ Cash’ (Jamie Dettmer and Tim Mak, The Daily Beast)

“The Obama administration says publicly that its support of moderate rebel brigades is not waning: The State Department continues to dispense non-lethal aid, the Pentagon supplies weapons, and the CIA pays salaries to brigades affiliated with the umbrella organization known as the Free Syrian Army. A CIA spokesman declined to comment for this story.

Privately, U.S. officials concede there have been funding changes. But American intelligence sources insist this is not a reflection of any shift in CIA strategy. They talk about ‘individual case-by-case shutoffs’ that are the consequences of brigades collapsing or failing to perform. And these sources dispute suggestions there’s an overall decrease in CIA subsidies, saying they are not giving up on the Syrian rebels—even though the Syrian rebels in the north of the country in the vicinity of the Turkish border increasingly believe this to be true. (Those in the south, near the Jordanian border and Damascus, may fare better.)”

Tests for Egyptian Journalists’ (Naomi Sakr, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs)

“The regime did not foresee the extent to which a multiplicity of privately owned newspapers, television channels, and—from around 2004—political blogs, would open the way to higher standards of journalism, intensify public political debate and raise awareness of the crushing hardships faced by large sections of the population because of corruption, unemployment, police brutality, and general government neglect. Public enthusiasm for the alternative voices available in these media soared as Egypt held its first multi-candidate presidential election in 2005. In that year alone, levels of Internet take-up among the Egyptian population, whether measured by use or subscription, more than doubled. Access to video-sharing, with the birth of YouTube in 2005, further facilitated reporting of human rights abuse. By 2008, the year when Facebook use took off in Egypt, the country had 160,000 bloggers.”

Mary Casey-Baker

ALI DIA/AFP/Getty Images

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