Report

Bombing Targets Tourists in Istanbul

At least 10 people were killed by a bombing this morning in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood. The attack appears to have deliberately targeted tourists, and several Germans, a Norwegian, and a Peruvian were wounded in the blast. Investigators are testing the type of explosive used to try to determine who was responsible for the attack. In ...

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At least 10 people were killed by a bombing this morning in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood. The attack appears to have deliberately targeted tourists, and several Germans, a Norwegian, and a Peruvian were wounded in the blast. Investigators are testing the type of explosive used to try to determine who was responsible for the attack.

In televised remarks, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber with ties to Syria, though no evidence has been provided to demonstrate this claim. Erdogan also spoke against foreign academics who have criticized his government’s policies. “Pick a side,” Erdogan said. “You are either on the side of the Turkish government, or you’re on the side of the terrorists.”

Iran Destroys Plutonium Reactor at Arak

Iran says that it has neutralized the plutonium reactor at its nuclear facility at Arak in accordance with the terms of the agreement reached with the P5+1 in July. The reactor was reportedly removed and filled with concrete to prevent further use. The International Atomic Energy Agency must verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement before the sanctions-relief portion of the deal is implemented. In a speech, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that could take place “in a few days.”

Headlines

  • Food and medical aid arrived in the besieged city of Madaya, Syria, yesterday, but representatives of the World Health Organization say that mobile clinics and a door-to-door assessment are necessary to respond to the levels of malnutrition.

 

  • The Islamic State killed 29 people in two attacks targeting a mall in Baghdad and a cafe in Muqdadiya.

 

  • Human Rights Watch accused Yemen’s Houthi rebels of arbitrarily arresting and detaining political opponents in the capital of Sanaa, including 27 people who have been in custody since at least October 2015.

 

  • Kuwait has sentenced two men to death for spying on behalf of Iran and Hezbollah, and others on trial received sentences of five to 25 years in prison; one of the men to be executed  is Kuwaiti and appeared in court, the other is Iranian and was tried in absentia.

 

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Russia could shelter Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if he must leave Syria, noting that it would be easier than granting asylum to Edward Snowden, but caveated his remarks by saying it is too early to discuss asylum for Assad.

Arguments and Analysis

‘I Just Wanted to be Treated Like a Person’: How Lebanon’s Residency Rules Facilitate Abuse of Syrian Refugees” (Human Rights Watch)

“The new border entry regulations that came into force on January 5, 2015, denied entry to many Syrians fleeing armed conflict and persecution. The same day, General Security, the agency that oversees the entry and exit of foreigners into the country, implemented restrictive and costly residency renewal regulations. These new regulations sort Syrians seeking to renew residency permits into two categories: those registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations refugee agency; and those who are not, who must find a Lebanese sponsor to remain legally in the country. All must pay a $200 annual fee for renewals, and provide identification papers and documentation about their lodging. Children under 15 can renew for free but their application is tied to the legal status of the head of household. This report finds that the new regulations impose onerous burdens on both groups of Syrians that bar most from renewing required residency permits.”

 

Turkey’s New Base in Qatar” (Olivier Decottignies and Soner Cagaptay, Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

“While the United States remains by far the largest provider of security in the Gulf, major NATO allies have been stepping up their presence. The French established a multipurpose air, sea, and ground base in the UAE in 2009, while British foreign secretary Philip Hammond took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a similar project in Bahrain last November. Key non-Western nations are also closing in on the region. Russia has deployed forces to Syria and established itself at bases in Latakia and Tartus, while China controls commercial operations at the Pakistani port of Gwadar, not far from the mouth of the Persian Gulf. For its part, the Obama administration has pledged to refocus U.S. efforts toward the Far East and the Pacific Rim. This pivot and the nuclear deal with Tehran have caused anxiety among Arab Gulf countries contemplating the prospect of a resurgent Iran and still wary of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Therefore, Turkey’s move in Qatar will make Ankara all the more valuable to its Arab partners, and to an American ally seemingly inclined to share the burden of Gulf security. The new base will also reinforce Qatar’s autonomy vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia. In addition, it could contribute to the security effort for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a major and persistently controversial endeavor for Qatar.”

-J. Dana Stuster

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