World Leaders Prepare Agenda for U.N. General Assembly
World leaders are setting out their agendas for the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York next week. President Barack Obama will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria, though U.S. diplomats said Obama would not negotiate the text of a Russian U.N. Security Council proposal that ...
World leaders are setting out their agendas for the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York next week. President Barack Obama will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria, though U.S. diplomats said Obama would not negotiate the text of a Russian U.N. Security Council proposal that called on countries participating in counterterrorism missions to coordinate with the governments of the countries in which they are operating — a reference to the Assad regime. Regime forces have begun using the Russian jets deployed to an airbase near Latakia as part of a recent buildup of Russian forces, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Other nations are positioning themselves for the General Assembly meeting as well. Turkey is expected to make a case in defense of its crackdown on the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). Saudi Arabia is trying to avoid condemnation for human rights abuses committed in its intervention in Yemen as it faces a new challenge in the U.N. Human Rights Council introduced by the Netherlands. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will make the Syrian refugee crisis a key component of her remarks and yesterday called on the United States and Russia to cooperate on addressing the challenge.
Death Toll of Hajj Stampede Rises
The toll in a deadly stampede on Wednesday during the Hajj pilgrimage has risen to 719 deaths. More than 800 were wounded. At least 130 of the dead were Iranian pilgrims; Turkish, Indian, Afghan, and Pakistani Muslims were also killed when two large crowds collided in Mina. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has called for a review of the kingdom’s Hajj safety protocols.
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- U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group Division 30 continues to deny its fighters have defected to Jabhat al-Nusra and the Division 30 commander who started the rumor was seen near Aleppo and is believed to now be organizing his militia independent of both groups.
- Israel has approved new, harsher laws against stone-throwing that include a minimum four-year sentence and allows security forces to respond with small-caliber live ammunition.
- Assad regime and Hezbollah forces have agreed to a ceasefire with rebels in the towns of Zabadani, Foua, and Kefraya in exchange for the release of political prisoners and guarantees of safe passage; previous ceasefire attempts in the towns have collapsed.
- The Iraqi military’s stalled effort to retake the Baiji oil refinery from Islamic State militants is causing military planners to reevaluate plans to make a new push to recapture Mosul soon.
- Two Turkish soldiers and 34 PKK militants were killed when Turkish jets conducted airstrikes on a PKK position in response to attacks on Turkish forces near Beytussebap district in Sirnak province, according to the Turkish military.
Arguments and Analysis
“Syria: Let Putin Bleed” (Steven A. Cook, Council on Foreign Relations)
“All this is a long wind up to the idea that while the West should not exactly learn to love Russia’s intervention in Syria, the United States, Europeans, and the Gulf states might actually come to like it. Moscow may think it is somehow calling Washington’s bluff in the fight against the Islamic State, but folks should separate out the Russian bluster and the political posturing of Obama administration opponents and supporters on Twitter and consider the serious implications of the Kremlin’s move. The Russians just put themselves squarely in the middle of an extremely nasty, brutish civil war featuring a grab bag of extremist groups that includes the Islamic State, which would likely love to take a shot at the Russian military. If the reports of large numbers of Chechens filling the ranks of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s forces are accurate, it is payback time. Those jihadists are arrayed against Moscow’s allies, a nefarious group that includes Hezbollah, Assad’s militias, what is left of the Syrian military, and agents of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. If the risks to the Russians in this environment are not clear, they should be. They are no longer an indirect party to the conflict, they have a huge target on their backs, and they are going to have a serious fight on their hands that does not seem to favor Russian forces. Sure, Syria in 2015 is not Afghanistan in 1979, and one would think that the Russians have learned lessons from their painful past, but Putin seems to have drawn all the wrong lessons from the late Soviet period.”
“PKK-Turkey Conflict Could Hurt Kurdish Fight Against ISIS in Syria” (Wladimir van Wilgenburg, MENASource)
“With the Turkey-PKK clashes unlikely stop in the near term, the YPG will have to step up its military recruitment of Syrian Kurds and cooperate with Arab tribes to incorporate Arabs into the YPG. The recent PKK attack in the Daglica area of Hakkari province near the Iraqi border that killed at least thirty-one Turkish soldiers and the continued violence in Cizre show that there is no end in sight of the Turkey-PKK conflict. For the near future, the YPG will struggle to raise its capacity to fight ISIS, no doubt hurting the anti-ISIS coalition’s efforts.”
-J. Dana Stuster
DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images