Report

U.S. Court Finds Palestinian Groups Liable for Attacks in Israel

U.S. Court Finds Palestinian Groups Liable for Attacks in Israel

A U.S. court in New York found the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization liable on Monday for supporting six attacks in Israel. The attacks, between 2002 and 2004, were attributed to al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas. They killed 33 people, including several U.S. citizens, and wounded more than 450 others. The jury awarded 10 American families $218.5 million, which will triple to $655.5 million under an anti-terrorism law. The PLO and Palestinian Authority described the charges as “baseless” and officials vowed to appeal the decision.

Syria-Iraq

Islamic State militants seized a number of Assyrian Christian villages in the northeastern Syrian Hassakeh province Monday, kidnapping dozens of people. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 90 people were abducted, most from the village of Tal Shamran, though estimates from activist groups and residents range. The raids came amid fighting between Kurdish forces and Islamic State militants in the area. Meanwhile, New Zealand plans to send 143 military personnel to Iraq to help train security forces in the fight against Islamic State militants. On Tuesday, a number of bombings in and around the Iraqi capital of Baghdad killed at least 15 people.

Headlines

  • Leaked Mossad documents show a discrepancy with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion in 2012 that Iran was about a year away from being able to make a nuclear bomb.
  • Negotiators have agreed to resume nuclear negotiations next Monday after U.S. and Iranian officials considered a proposal that would phase out nuclear restrictions during two days of talks in Geneva.
  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signed off on an anti-terrorism law that would give authorities more power to act against individuals or groups seen as a threat to national security.
  • Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi wrote a letter to parliament rescinding his resignation and calling for ministers to convene in the southern city of Aden.

Arguments and Analysis

Is ISIS’s Social-Media Power Exaggerated?’ (Kathy Gilsinan, The Atlantic)

“But what if ISIS’s much-hyped social-media juggernaut isn’t as important as all of these measures suggest?

“We know it has the potential to influence, but exactly how and at what levels are quite unknown,” Anthony Lemieux, an associate professor of communication at Georgia State University, wrote in an email. Lemieux is researching that very question, but in the meantime it’s difficult to find a reliable estimate of how many ISIS fighters have been radicalized and recruited primarily through social media. Max Abrahms, a political-science professor and terrorism specialist at Northeastern University, suspects the number is lower than many people believe. “There are other groups”—such as Boko Haram in Nigeria—“that have rapidly expanded their membership size in the absence of social media,” he pointed out to me. “Battlefield success is a better predictor” of group size than is social-media activity, Abrahms said. If, as some contend, ISIS’s battlefield momentum has already stalled, its recruitment could suffer even as its social-media activity remains constant.”

What’s behind Yemen’s recent political turmoil’ (Stephen W. Day, The Washington Post)

“The current crisis is once again rooted in contestation of the balance between multiple local and regional powers. The primary reason for the recent political collapse in Sanaa was not Iranian grand ambition, but rather the Houthi leadership’s rejection of a new draft constitution derived from outcomes of a year-long National Dialogue Conference (NDC). The NDC, sponsored by the United Nations between 2013 and 2014, recommended the formation of a six-region federal state in order to better manage Yemen’s complex divisions. Similar recommendations were put forward during national dialogue conferences before the 1994 civil war, when a federal-style devolution of power may have avoided conflict.”

Can the Kurdistan workers’ party (PKK) overcome its international image of a terrorist organisation?’ (Serhun Al, openDemocracy)

“That has made Kurdish peshmerga under the rule of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey, and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, de facto allies of the US-led international coalition on the ground — and propelled these fighters to international celebrity figures against ISIS. Even Marie Claire, an international fashion magazine, has gotten in on the celebration — bolstering this heroic image by publishing the pictures of Kurdish women fighters in Syria.

And yet there is a grave duality: the PKK in particular is, after all, still listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union. Its status as such has been seriously debated with its new transnational image as a secular and pro-western organisation. But can they be removed from the terrorist organisation lists in major western states and perhaps become an inspiration for transnational advocacy networks like the Zapatistas of Mexico?”

Mary Casey-Baker

Quique Kierszenbaum/Getty Images