U.S. Pins Disputed Strike against Syrian Regime Forces on Russia
The United States responded yesterday to accusations from the Assad regime that U.S. coalition warplanes bombed regime forces in Deir al-Zour Province. According to the U.S. military, coalition forces were not operating in the area of the strike and it was in fact carried out by a Russian bomber. The United States has escalated its ...
The United States responded yesterday to accusations from the Assad regime that U.S. coalition warplanes bombed regime forces in Deir al-Zour Province. According to the U.S. military, coalition forces were not operating in the area of the strike and it was in fact carried out by a Russian bomber.
The United States has escalated its airstrikes in Deir al-Zour, targeting oil fields held by the Islamic State. French and British warplanes have also participated in recent strikes. A report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims that 39 civilians were killed in a recent coalition strike in Hasakeh Province. The U.S. military said that it is assessing the report.
Deadline Nears in Iraq Ultimatum on Turkish Troops
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu tried to calm tensions with Iraq today, saying he would like to visit Baghdad to resolve concerns about Turkey’s recent deployment of troops to a base in northern Iraq. Yesterday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned that Turkey has 24 hours to withdraw its troops and officials have rejected Turkey’s apparent intent to allow the troops to remain. “No matter the size of the force entering Iraq, it is rejected,” Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi said in a statement.
- A ceasefire between pro-government Yemeni forces and Houthi rebels will begin on December 15, coinciding with the start of peace talks in Vienna, the United Nations confirmed yesterday.
- Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinian youths during a raid on the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem; a 19-year-old Palestinian man was killed in the fighting and another was arrested on suspicion of stabbing an Israeli border guard in October.
- The United Nations responded yesterday to the news that Libya’s feuding governments had signed a domestically-negotiated reconciliation agreement, urging the governments to also sign a U.N.-backed accord.
- Mahmoud Doaei, managing editor of Iranian newspaper Ettelaat, was indicted for violating a ban on publishing comments from or images of former president Mohammad Khatami.
- At least six children were killed when a boat carrying a group of Afghans capsized off the coast of Izmir, Turkey, while attempting to transit to Greece.
Arguments and Analysis
“Syria: The Need for Diplomacy and De-escalation” (Philip Gordon, Council on Foreign Relations)
“The strategy has consisted of gradually increasing support for a ‘moderate’ opposition that would compel the regime and its primary sponsors to sideline the Syrian dictator and hand power over to a transitional government. Instead of forcing the regime’s capitulation, however, that approach has led to a counter-escalation by the regime and its sponsors. Further military escalation is unlikely to change this dynamic, as both Iran and Russia are committed to the regime’s preservation. If taken to its logical conclusion, escalation could bring about a ‘catastrophic success’ scenario, whereby the regime’s overthrow is followed by all-out war among conflicting extremist factions and more killing, refugee flows, and regional instability. There are no good policy options in Syria. But considering the dire consequences of the status quo or military escalation, the United States should support a new course that consists of using the new diplomatic process in Vienna to de-escalate the conflict on the basis of a cease-fire between the regime and the opposition; devolving power to local representatives in areas the regime does not currently control; intensifying the campaign against the Islamic State; and establishing an internal political process that would ultimately determine Assad’s fate but would not make the outcome of that process a prerequisite to ending the war. Even achieving this set of goals could take many months, and would leave some problems unresolved, but it is a far more realistic approach than the current one.”
“We Just Had Kebabs With The Guys Russia Says Prove Turkey Loves ISIS” (Borzou Daragahi, BuzzFeed)
“A senior Turkish official chose a noisy, out-of-the-way kebab joint to brief a group of international journalists Monday about the bad rap his country is getting in the pro-Moscow media following the downing of a Russian fighter jet in Syria. That restaurant, Cigeristan, is owned by two brothers, Ali and Ismail Kember, a pair of pious Muslims and ex-musicians (‘We are like Cat Stevens,’ jokes one) who sport beards similar to the ones worn by ISIS fighters. A couple of years ago Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son, Bilal, ate at the busy eatery, and the proud owners posed for pictures with him. Those photos have since resurfaced as part of Russia’s ‘evidence’ that Turkey has been colluding with ISIS leaders amid escalating rhetoric between Moscow and Ankara after Turkey shot down the plane. ‘All the claims about Turkey and ISIS [should be taken as] seriously as this allegation,’ said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized by the government to speak to the public — despite organizing the fast-food fete.”
-J. Dana Stuster
GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images