Report

Jordan Steps Up Strikes as U.S. Sends Rescue Aircraft to Erbil

Jordan has increased airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

JORDAN-SYRIA-IRAQ-CONFLICT-IS-ROYALS-DEMO
Jordanians hold banners shouting slogans during a demonstration on February 6, 2015 in the capital Amman to express their solidarity with the pilot murdered by the Islamic State (IS) group. Wearing a black suit and a red-and-white checked keffiyeh over her shoulders, Jordan's Queen Rania joined thousands of people who turned out after midday prayers and marched from the central al-Husseini mosque to Palm Park, about one kilometres (half a mile) away. AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI (Photo credit should read KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images)

Jordan has increased airstrikes against Islamic State militants, in response to a video appearing to show the killing of Jordanian pilot First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh. Jordanian fighter jets targeted training camps and ammunition depots near the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa in Deir al-Zour province, according to a security source. U.S. officials said the Jordanians carried out 15 to 24 strikes. While the strikes were originally focused on Syria, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said airstrikes are now targeting Islamic State militants in Iraq as well. Meanwhile, the United States has deployed aircraft to northern Iraq to reduce the time it would take to rescue downed coalition pilots. The United Arab Emirates suspended strikes against Islamic State militants in December following the capture of Kasasbeh, and demanded the United States establish a more effective search-and-rescue system.

Syria

Dozens of Syrian government airstrikes targeted the opposition-held Eastern Ghouta district of Damascus Thursday and Friday killing 82 people, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The strikes came after the rebel group Jaish al-Islam launched mortar rounds and rockets into the center of Damascus Thursday killing 10 people. Activist groups additionally reported government forces dropped two barrel bombs on a crowded square in the northern city of Aleppo Thursday night killing at least 25 people.

Headlines

  • Tunisia’s new coalition government took office Friday, led by the secular Nidaa Tounes party and including the Islamist Ennahda party.
  • A suicide car bomber killed two people in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, though apparently missing its target of an army base, as heavy clashes continued between rival factions.
  • Houthi rebels said they will release a “constitutional declaration” after days of failed talks over establishing a presidential council in Yemen.
  • The Egyptian military launched one of its biggest security operations in months in northern Sinai Friday killing 27 militants, according to security sources.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Munich Friday to discuss ongoing nuclear negotiations.

Arguments and Analysis

Building a Better Post-Oslo Era’ (Nathan J. Brown, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

“Now, however, Palestinian and Israeli leaders appear to be making different calculations. With the Palestinian leadership having taken the initial steps to file a complaint against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) late in 2014, and Israel moving toward parliamentary elections in March 2015, most are positioning themselves for a post-Oslo era in which they no longer depend on Oslo’s structures. At the same time, the international sponsors of what a few diehards continue to call the peace process seem to be running out of patience, ideas, and perhaps even funds.

It is only inertia that keeps the basic structures established under Oslo operating today; both Palestinians and Israelis are profoundly ambivalent about them, and the international institutions designed to support them are fraying. In this setting, they may decay or collapse as various actors blunder ahead, displaying thoughtlessness, frustration, and exhaustion rather than strategy and purpose, all undermining the interim arrangements that Oslo promised would be steps toward a permanent solution. Worse, current trends risk entrenching only the worst aspects of the status quo—the denial of Palestinian rights and the continuation of Israeli long-term existential fears—while adding paroxysms of violence and outbreaks of uncontrollable spirals of hostility.”

How much of a state is the Islamic State?’ (Quinn Mecham, The Washington Post)

“Rather than assessing the ‘Islamic’ qualities of the Islamic State group, I will focus instead on the ‘stateness’ of this group as it has developed in early 2015. The contemporary name of this group implies both that it is Islamic and also that it is a state. My principal argument is that while the Islamic State does not have all of the characteristics that we usually attribute to states, it does have many of them, and that its trajectory to date is toward increasing levels of stateness. This matters a great deal, not only because it shapes the lives of the people who live within Islamic State-controlled territory, but also because it has implications for how outside actors should engage with this group. In particular, the more the Islamic State actually resembles a state, with its security provision and regulatory institutions, the less international actors will be able to ‘degrade’ or ‘destroy’ the group without also degrading or destroying the fundamental functions of the state. Attempts to degrade and destroy these emergent state institutions will likely lead to anarchy, which often comes with profoundly negative consequences.”

— Mary Casey-Baker

KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images

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