Report

Airstrikes in Syria as Assad Hits Aleppo, U.S. Hits Islamic State

Syrian rebels have launched a new offensive to capture Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city. The new push to take the city builds on a series of rebel victories in the country’s north. Much of the fighting is being done by Ansar al-Sharia, a new coalition of Islamist militias including Jabhat al-Nusra. The regime has responded ...

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Syrian rebels have launched a new offensive to capture Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city. The new push to take the city builds on a series of rebel victories in the country’s north. Much of the fighting is being done by Ansar al-Sharia, a new coalition of Islamist militias including Jabhat al-Nusra. The regime has responded with airstrikes.

The United States and its coalition allies conducted a series of 24 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on Thursday in support of separate operations against the Islamic State. Some of the strikes took place near Bayji, Iraq, where Iraqi forces have cleared the town of Islamic State militants and are now pushing on towards the neighboring oil refinery. Strikes in Iraq also targeted Islamic State strongholds, including Fallujah and Mosul. Strikes in Syria hit targets in Raqqa and Tal Abyad, where earlier this week the Islamic State attacked the Kurdish militias that recently captured the city.

Nuclear Talks with Iran Make Progress

Diplomats in Vienna working on a nuclear agreement with Iran say that they are nearing a compromise that would allow IAEA inspectors access to sensitive nuclear sites. Progress is reportedly also being made on the issues of sanctions relief and Iran’s past weapons development. Though the official deadline passed on June 30, the new goal is to reach a deal by June 7.

Headlines

  • A day after the United Nations declared Yemen a Level 3 humanitarian disaster, the Yemeni government says that it is discussing a temporary ceasefire to allow more aid to enter the country.

 

  • The U.N. World Food Program has reduced the food stipends it gives to Syrian refugees on account of strains on its budget.

 

  • The Islamic State destroyed several statues from the ancient ruins of Palmyra, including a 15-foot-tall carved lion; other statues were destroyed when the Islamic State intercepted a smuggler trying to take them out of the country to sell them.

 

  • The Saudi government has censored and is investigating a pro-Muslim Brotherhood television host after televised remarks critical of the previous king, King Abdullah.

 

  • The Chinese government condemned Turkey for aiding and abetting illegal migration after it allowed 173 Uighurs to enter the country and resettle.

Arguments and Analysis

Saudi Arabia field report: Another potential oil crisis in the Middle East” (Yukari Hino, Markaz)

“Saudi Arabia is the biggest oil exporter in the world. However, this status may be threatened as a result of domestic oil consumption. Several recent studies predict that Saudi Arabia will be a net oil importer by 2030 or 2038. Other regional energy exporters such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Iran have worked to control their domestic consumption to address the skyrocketing costs, economic distortions, and potential vulnerabilities of high rates of internal energy utilization. The current efforts of Saudi Arabia to curb domestic consumption offer an excellent litmus test for its neighbors, as well as other oil and gas exporting countries.”

 

After Ramadi, Militias in the Lead” (Kirk H. Sowell, Sada)

“The fall of Ramadi on May 17 has had two key repercussions, neither of which will be reversed by simply retaking lost ground. First, it weakened Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vis-a-vis his political rivals, in particular former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the pro-Iran militias allied with him. Second, it heightened the sectarian nature of the conflict by giving these militias a mandate to retake Anbar. Whereas the fight for Ramadi since January 2014 has been a largely non-sectarian affair — with army and police units made up of both Shia and Sunni personnel fighting against Sunni jihadis — Shia militias backed by Iran have since moved to the fore.”

-J. Dana Stuster

KARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/Getty Images

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