Germany will contribute militarily to the coalition effort to fight the Islamic State after the government voted overwhelmingly in favor of approving a military contribution this morning. German forces will still refrain from conducting airstrikes, but will provide “reconnaissance planes, a frigate and midair fueling capacity,” the New York Times reports. The decision comes shortly after Britain voted to expand its role in the air campaign and amid a growing role for Europe after the Islamic State attacks in Paris.
In a White House briefing explaining the administration’s decision to deploy more Special Operations Forces to Iraq and Syria, administration officials said that the United States is currently killing a mid- to high-level Islamic State target every two days and that the increased troop presence will allow greater intelligence to continue this targeting.
Saudis Knew of Médecins Sans Frontières Clinic in Yemen
Warplanes participating in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen bombed a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic in Taiz on Wednesday. The clinic had been evacuated after a previous round of airstrikes had struck a nearby park. The attack is the second time that the Gulf intervention force has bombed a MSF clinic in Yemen. MSF told press that the international coalition had been informed of the location of the clinic repeatedly, most recently on November 29.
- Sixteen people were killed in Cairo when a disgruntled employee attacked a restaurant and nightclub with a molotov cocktail.
- The Islamic State released a video this week of one Russian member of the terrorist group beheading another who was accused of being a spy; the executed man was reportedly an orphan who was recruited by Russia’s FSB after trying to move to Chechnya.
- Iran will not accept discussions of managing its increase in oil production after sanctions are lifted, Iran’s oil minister said yesterday in Vienna in advance of an OPEC meeting today.
- The German government publicly rebuked an assessment by its own intelligence agency, the BND, that Saudi Arabia was adopting a more reckless and “impulsive” foreign policy, especially with regard to its rivalry with Iran.
- The Israeli press reacted to speeches made yesterday by Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson at the Republican Jewish Coalition, noting that Trump’s speech featured “offensive stereotypes” and Carson mispronounced “Hamas” as “hummus.”
Arguments and Analysis
“Egypt’s new masters are wrecking its long tradition of religious freedom” (Jack Shenker, The Guardian)
“Paternal authority in all its forms — from the family dining table to the church and mosque — has been challenged and subverted during the past half-decade, exposing in the process a critical fault line between large sections of society and the state. Nothing is more dangerous to existing elites than Egyptians who view themselves as autonomous citizens rather than dependants. Hence why, above all else, the counter-revolution has battled to reimpose a culture of control from above and obedience below. To this end, a virulent strand of chauvinistic nationalism has now been threaded through Egypt’s body politic, emphasising very different fault lines that pose far less threat to the ancien régime. Instead of citizens from diverse faiths and backgrounds linking up to undermine the repressive institutions of the state, the current president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, demands a grateful, pliant populace that forms “one hand” with its political elders, while dissenters are banished beyond the realm of the possible, outside the familial fold. Anybody who betokens difference from the norm is at risk of being targeted, including gay men and lesbians, refugees and women undermining traditional gender roles by daring to enact political presence in public spaces.”
“How fringe attacks on American Muslims became mainstream” (Christopher Bail, Monkey Cage)
“Though Muslim leaders are understandably angry about attacks on their religion, impassioned responses only feed hostility to Islam. On the other hand, decades of social science research show that fear and anger can also create solidarity — and the actions of the Islamic State have made both Muslim leaders and the American public fearful and angry. The best way for Muslim-American leaders to combat anti-Muslim sentiments is to redirect their emotions away from figures such as Trump and towards the terrorist organizations that are the root cause of so many Americans’ antipathy to Islam. Some may argue that forcefully condemning the Islamic State somehow legitimates the idea that Islam is responsible for this violent movement. Yet the opportunity to avoid such guilt by association has long passed. Instead, mainstream Muslim organizations must recognize that shared fear and anger need not only be the outcome of terrorism — they may also be its antidote.”
-J. Dana Stuster
John Moore/Getty Images