Report

Iraqi Forces Advance to Center of Ramadi

Iraqi forces began their assault on the Islamic State-occupied city of Ramadi on Monday night and have advanced to the city center, according to Iraqi and U.S. military officials. “We went into the center of Ramadi from different axes, and we started clearing residential areas,” Gen. Sabah al-Numani told the New York Times. Both Iraqi ...

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Iraqi forces began their assault on the Islamic State-occupied city of Ramadi on Monday night and have advanced to the city center, according to Iraqi and U.S. military officials. “We went into the center of Ramadi from different axes, and we started clearing residential areas,” Gen. Sabah al-Numani told the New York Times. Both Iraqi military and Sunni tribal forces are cooperating in the effort to retake the city. According to a tweet from Kuwaiti news agency Al Rai’s international correspondent, the Iraqi government has said that U.S. Special Forces are participating in the attack as well.

The Islamic State seized Ramadi, the largest city in Anbar Province, in May, and 300 to 400 fighters are believed to be holding the city. Islamic State forces destroyed three bridges, slowing the assault. According to a new report by IHS Jane’s, the Islamic State lost 14 percent of its territory in Iraq and Syria over the past year, despite their capture of Ramadi and Palmyra.

Oman Given Preferential Treatment in State Department Report on Human Rights

The U.S. State Department deliberately downgraded its assessment of Oman’s human rights record for political reasons, according to new Reuters report. The State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report was placed on hold in June while officials shifted Oman from its original assessment of “Tier 2 Watch List,” nearing a level that induces sanctions for human rights abuses, to “Tier 2.” Oman has been a key facilitator for back-channel talks for the United States.

Headlines

  • Saudi military officials threatened severe reprisals after a fourth missile fired across the Saudi-Yemeni border was intercepted, despite the stated intent to extend a ceasefire established during last week’s peace talks.

 

  • Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said yesterday after the funeral of Samir Kantar that Hezbollah reserves “the right to respond to this assassination at the time and place of our choosing.”

 

  • Zuhair Kutbi, a Saudi writer who proposed that Saudi Arabia become a constitutional monarchy, has been sentenced to four years in prison, five years without the right to travel, and banned from writing for 15 years, though no charges have been released publicly.

 

  • Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari denied that the Iraqi government had any role in the abduction of a Qatari hunting party last week after a spokesperson for the Gulf Cooperation Council called the act “an action that harms the bonds of brotherly relations between Arab brothers.”

 

  • The Islamic State shelled a school in a regime-held neighborhood of Deir al-Zor, killing nine students, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Arguments and Analysis

Kurdistan’s Political Armies: The Challenge of Unifying the Peshmerga Forces” (Mario Fumerton and Wladimir Van Wilgenburg, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

“Partisan factionalism has proved to be a major stumbling block to unifying and integrating the peshmerga. No less importantly, this ‘partisanization’ has hindered the establishment of healthy and democratic civil-military relations in Iraqi Kurdistan. Asserting the government’s authority over the peshmerga, rather than that of the parties’ Political Bureaus, is crucial but unlikely to be fully achieved so long as the peshmerga groups continue to function as vehicles for political patronage by the KDP and the PUK. The challenges of unifying and depoliticizing the peshmerga became urgent following the launch of the Islamic State’s major Iraqi offensive in June 2014. Worsening political and financial relations with Baghdad — on which the KRG depends for budget transfers — has made the unification issue more critical. In response, Gorran, a new, reformist political party that emerged in 2009 as the main competitor to the KDP and the PUK, has led the call to end the peshmerga’s partisan division, and the party has firmly placed the development of a fundamentally new civil-military relationship back on the public agenda. Until these issues are resolved, Iraqi Kurdistan cannot become a consolidated democracy, preventing it from eventually winning international recognition as an independent state.”

 

The Identity Thief” (Khaled Akil, New York Times Magazine)

“I stopped because I saw a Syrian passport laid open in front of them. My wife and I recently made the difficult move from Aleppo to Istanbul, so of course I’m sympathetic to fellow countrymen who are refugees. I started speaking to the man in Arabic, to let him know about his options in Turkey: It doesn’t take long to get a special ID card that gives you access to health care and other services. And at the camps south of us, families can get help with almost all their basic needs. The man had decent clothes on — jeans and a T-shirt. His Arabic wasn’t very good. It was like listening to someone reading from an Arabic-language textbook. That bothered me a little bit. I glanced at his wife, who was holding their baby, and asked him what part of Syria he was from.

‘Hatay,’ he said. My question must have caught him off guard, because he blurted it out and then broke eye contact. Hatay is a province of Turkey, on the Syrian border. I looked closer at what his wife was wearing: a colorful veil, a flower-patterned dress. That’s how a rural Turkish woman would dress, not a Syrian woman.

‘You aren’t a refugee,’ I said. ‘You aren’t from Syria.’

‘It’s all the same by now, brother,’ he said in perfect Turkish. ‘It’s one country.’

Listening to his script, I started to grit my teeth. These con artists take advantage of war and turn it into job security.”

-J. Dana Stuster

STR/AFP/Getty Images

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