The Syrian Air Force launched strikes on Sunday on the rebel-held town of Douma northeast of Damascus. The attack destroyed a marketplace in the suburb killing at least 96 people and injuring over 200. A Syrian military official claimed the strikes were a response to the recent escalation of violence in the capital stating that “if there is any escalation toward Damascus there will be a very strong and decisive response.”
The strikes in Damascus over the weekend coincide with the new United Nations Humanitarian Chief’s first visit to Syria since he took up his post this past May. The new chief, Stephen O’Brien, told reporters that “attacks on civilians are unlawful, unacceptable, and need to stop” at the end of his three-day visit in Damascus on Monday. O’Brien additionally called up all actors in Syria stating, “I appeal to each and every party to this protracted conflict to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law.”
Egyptian President Establishes New Anti-terror Laws
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approved new anti-terror laws that boost police and judicial powers and create special courts in response to pressure from a growing violent jihadist insurgence. Human rights groups fear the new legislation could further muzzle opposition and critics of Sisi due to potential hefty fines on the media for reporting stories that contradict any official government statement of a militant attack. Mohamed Elmessiry, an Egyptian researcher at Amnesty International, claims that the new law “is taking us back to the Mubarak era and the 30-year state of emergency that helped push Egyptians to the streets in 2011.”
-Heavy fighting has left more than 80 people dead as government loyalists and rebels clash in Yemen’s third city, Taiz.
-An Iraqi parliamentary panel has called for the former prime minister, and over 30 other officials, to stand trial over the fall of the city of Mosul to the Islamic State last year.
-Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah ali Khamenei, remains uncertain about the fate of the Iran Nuclear Deal as lawmakers in both the United State and Iran review the deal.
-Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, meets with the leader of the nationalist party in a final effort to form a coalition government as the deadline approaches this week.
-Russia and Iran claim that the Syrian groups must decide the future of Assad while Russia continues to oppose any pre-negotiated exit of the Syrian president as part of a peace deal.
Arguments and Analysis
“Implications of Turkey’s War Against the PKK” (Soner Cagaptay, Washington Institute for Middle East Policy)
“The recent collapse of coalition government talks between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Republican People’s Party (CHP) has increased the chances for early elections in Turkey this November. The domestic political maneuvering is also an important factor in Ankara’s shifting policy on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). On July 24, Turkey began a bombing campaign against PKK bases in Iraq — a development that followed the PKK’s murder of three Turkish police and military officers on July 20 and 22. Now that the two-year ceasefire is over, who will be the winners of this fight, and what implications does it hold for U.S. policy?”
“Another Palestinian Uprising?” (Mouin Rabbani, Middle East Institute)
”Predictions of a new Palestinian intifada in the occupied territories tend to accompany every breakdown in the diplomatic process, announcement of a new colonial expansion project, and Israeli violence against Palestinian life—such as the recent horrific murder of Palestinian infant Ali Dawabsheh by settler terrorists who set fire to his West Bank family home.”
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