Kerry Pushes for Diplomacy as Aleppo Offensive Continues
Syrian forces backed by Russian airstrikes and Shia fighters from Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq are continuing their assault on Aleppo this week. The force has made incremental gains, seizing villages near the city, as well as near Homs and Hama, but has stalled without taking strategic supply routes. Russian airstrikes in Latakia province killed 45 ...
Syrian forces backed by Russian airstrikes and Shia fighters from Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq are continuing their assault on Aleppo this week. The force has made incremental gains, seizing villages near the city, as well as near Homs and Hama, but has stalled without taking strategic supply routes. Russian airstrikes in Latakia province killed 45 people, including some civilians, as well as the commander of the First Coastal Division, a Free Syrian Army rebel group. U.S.-supported rebels fighting the regime in Aleppo say they have received an influx of weapons to repel the regime assault on the city, including U.S.-made anti-tank missiles. “We received more supplies of ammunition in greater quantities than before, including mortar bombs, rocket launchers and anti-tank (missiles),” a rebel commander told Reuters. “We are well-stocked after these deliveries.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday he will meet with Russian, Turkish, and Jordanian officials during his current trip through Europe and the Middle East to discuss the possibility of resuming Syrian peace talks. “Everybody, including the Russians and the Iranians, have all said there is no military solution, so we need to get about the effort of finding the political solution,” Kerry said on Monday. Iran and Saudi Arabia are currently sparring about whether each should have a role in Syrian diplomacy, accusing one another of meddling in foreign affairs. On a visit to the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, U.S. Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford said that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi did not request Russian airstrikes against the Islamic State. “U.S. officials engaged Abadi and he did not request Russian airstrikes,” Dunford said.
Ban Ki-moon and John Kerry Travel to Israel This Week
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel to Israel today to try to quell a month of violent attacks. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday and then travel to Jordan on Saturday. In Madrid yesterday, Kerry suggested that formalizing in writing the agreement between Israel and Jordan on access to the Temple Mount could be helpful and have a calming effect. Attacks continued this morning, including an attempted stabbing in the West Bank town of Beit Awwa.
- U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced that representatives of the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels will meet in Geneva by the end of October to discuss ending the civil war.
- The United States and Israel resumed discussion of a 10-year military aid agreement in Washington on Sunday; negotiations were suspended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the announcement of the Iran nuclear agreement in July.
- Saudi Arabia issued a 10-year jail sentence to a human rights blogger and founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association under a counterterrorism law, reports Amnesty International.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policies on refugees and open borders is facing an insurgency from 188 members of parliament, many from her own party, who are calling for the creation of a border fence.
- Jacky Sutton, the Iraq director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and a former BBC journalist, was found dead in a restroom at an airport in Istanbul; the suspicious circumstances of her death have prompted calls for an investigation.
Arguments and Analysis
“After the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action: A Game Plan for the United States” (Ilan Goldenberg, Elizabeth Rosenberg, Avner Golov, Nicholas Heras, Ellie Maruyar, Center for a New American Security)
“The Iran nuclear agreement will have global implications far beyond the Middle East. Regardless of how long the deal lasts or its ultimate success, it will impact the way the United States interacts politically with some strategic global partners and competitors. The agreement should confer economic and security benefits to both China and Russia. It will likely provide the United States greater policy flexibility with how it approaches China, but may diminish the importance of one of the few bright spots in contemporary U.S.-Russia cooperation. The deal will also have an important effect on global oil markets. This will be significant for U.S. interests, given the status of the United States as the largest producer and consumer of petroleum and other liquid fuels, and indeed for the interests of all major oil producing and consuming economies.”
“Teaching Islam in the Age of ISIS” (Amina Steinfels, Religion and Politics)
“All of us who teach about Islam have to come to terms with such requests and make our own choices in how to meet them, even though many of us were not trained as experts in contemporary and political formations of the religion. Acquiescing to these demands is not without serious pitfalls. I might end up reinforcing the Orientalist and, in my judgment, bigoted view of Islam as unchanging and always the key to the behavior of Muslims. I might fall into the temptation of defending Islam against its many critics by offering unscholarly banalities about it being a ‘religion of peace’ and terrorists not being ‘real Muslims.’ (This latter approach, by the way, is what most people seem to want from a professor of Islam.) Given a public enough platform, I might make myself a target for increasingly strident and potentially dangerous anti-Islam organizations. That final fear is not merely paranoia; Daisy Khan’s talk required the presence of armed guards in the auditorium.”
-J. Dana Stuster
Fadi al-Halabi/AFP/Getty Images