Syrian Rebels Continue Assault on Aleppo, Obama Speaks on Islamic State Campaign
The Syrian rebels’ new campaign to control Aleppo continued yesterday when Jabhat al-Nusra conducted a suicide car bombing of an Assad regime military base, killing at least 25 people. The bombing is part of a concerted push by rebel groups — many operating in coalitions with Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate — to capture government-held ...
The Syrian rebels’ new campaign to control Aleppo continued yesterday when Jabhat al-Nusra conducted a suicide car bombing of an Assad regime military base, killing at least 25 people. The bombing is part of a concerted push by rebel groups — many operating in coalitions with Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate — to capture government-held neighborhoods despite years of stalemate. Over the weekend, rebels seized a military barracks and attacked a regime intelligence facility in the city.
Speaking at the Pentagon yesterday, President Obama stressed that the fight against the Islamic State will be a “long-term campaign,” noting that “there will be periods of progress, but there will also be some setbacks.” He pointed to gains made where the international coalition has had “an effective partner on the ground” — a nod to the recent successes by Kurdish militias in Syria’s northeast.
Saudi and Kuwaiti Governments Make Arrests for Mosque Bombing
The Saudi government has arrested three brothers for their role in the June 26 suicide bombing of a Shia mosque in Kuwait that killed 27 people. At least one of the brothers will be extradited to Kuwait, and a fourth brother is in Syria fighting for the Islamic State, according to authorities. Kuwait has arrested at least 26 people, including four women, over the last 10 days on suspicion of involvement in the attack.
- Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a state of emergency on Saturday to allow greater government flexibility to respond to recent terrorist attacks, though rights advocates noted that the law could truncate freedoms of assembly and the press.
- An Iraqi fighter jet accidentally released a bomb over a Baghdad neighborhood, killing at least 12 civilians.
- Nearly 200 people were killed in Saudi-led coalition strikes and ground combat by local resistance against the Houthis in Yemen, marking the deadliest 24 hours of the three-month conflict.
- Lebanon has now gone 409 days without a president, surpassing the previous Lebanese national record for days without a president; the previous record was set during Lebanon’s civil and was only resolved with the Taif Accords in 1989.
- The Israeli government on Sunday voted down plans to reform the process for converting to Judaism; the plan was initiated by the previous government on account of strict rules but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked his ministers to cancel it as part of a coalition agreement with ultra-Orthodox parties.
Arguments and Analysis
“A Cross-Sectarian Vision for Defeating the Islamic State in Iraq” (Nussaibah Younis, Carnegie Endowment for Middle East Peace)
“As it confronts the Islamic State, the Iraqi government must generate a compelling vision for the future of Sunni Iraq that does not involve being heavily policed, arbitrarily imprisoned, and forced to live in impoverished and half-destroyed areas. Such a vision should involve a significant measure of local autonomy, a share of Iraqi oil revenues, investments in repairing damaged infrastructure, and an effort to rebuild the local economy. At the same time, Iraq’s Shia elite must be persuaded that such measures are not a reward for terrorism, but are in fact the only ways to rid Iraq of extremism for the long term. And, while Kurdish secession appears inevitable, steps can be taken now to avoid violence and garner the KRG’s support in the fight against the Islamic State.”
“This Man Is the Leader in ISIS’s Recruiting War against al-Qaeda in Yemen” (Gregory D. Johnsen, BuzzFeed)
“The day before the executions, on June 17, a U.S. drone killed Nasir al-Wihayshi, AQAP’s top commander. Barely a week later, news started to filter out of Yemen’s tribal regions that another commander had defected to ISIS, taking several of his men with him. AQAP has been dodging U.S. drones for years, but the challenge from ISIS on its jihadi right is new and is being spearheaded by a man who goes by the name of Abu Bilal al-Harbi, who BuzzFeed News has identified as the top ISIS commander in Yemen.”
-J. Dana Stuster
GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images