Report

Guantanamo Detainees Resettled in Oman

Ten Yemeni detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay are being resettled in Oman, the U.S. Department of Defense announced yesterday. The men were cleared for release after a review of their cases. The transfers bring the number of prisoners held at Guantanamo to 93 — the first time the population has dropped below 100 since ...

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Ten Yemeni detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay are being resettled in Oman, the U.S. Department of Defense announced yesterday. The men were cleared for release after a review of their cases. The transfers bring the number of prisoners held at Guantanamo to 93 — the first time the population has dropped below 100 since 2002. At least 14 of the remaining detainees have also been cleared for release and dozens of others have their cases under review. The State Department’s Guantanamo envoy, Lee Wolosky, said that the cleared detainees will be resettled by this summer, and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said yesterday that he has presented the White House with a plan for transferring detainees that cannot be released to the United States.

Oman also accepted 10 detainees for resettlement last year. The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they facilitated the transfer of the detainees based on humanitarian concerns and at the request of the U.S. government.

Turkey Arrests Academics for Signing Petition

Turkish authorities arrested 12 academics at Kocaeli University and issued warrants for nine others today. The government has accused them of spreading “terrorism propaganda” for signing a petition that criticized the government’s conduct fighting Kurdish militants in the country’s southeast. The petition, titled “We Won’t Be a Party to This Crime,” has more than 1,000 signatories from 90 Turkish universities. “Hey, you so-called intellectuals,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a recent speech in which he referred to the signatories of the petition. “You are dark people. You are not intellectuals.”

Headlines

  • U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the “atrocious acts” committed in the Syrian civil war, singling out the Assad regime’s siege of Madaya; “Let me be clear: the use of starvation as a weapon of war is a war crime…I would say they are being held hostage, but it is even worse. Hostages get fed,” he said.

 

  • Houthi rebels in Yemen released five prisoners, including Technical Education Minister Abdul Razak Ashwal and “political and media activists,” according to the U.N. special envoy to Yemen; the move could be a goodwill gesture to prompt the rescheduling of postponed peace talks.

 

  • Thousands of Tunisians took to the streets yesterday to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the popular revolution that ousted the country’s dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

 

  • Samar Badawi, a Saudi activist who was arrested on Tuesday, was released on Wednesday after questioning by the authorities, according to Human Rights Watch.

 

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to comments by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom suggesting investigations into whether the recent killings of Palestinians by Israeli security forces were “extrajudicial,” calling them “outrageous,” “immoral,” and “stupid.”

Arguments and Analysis

What the Algerian Civil War Can Teach Us About Combating ISIS” (Kevin Greene, Political Violence @ a Glance)

“Competition between violent political organizations has been found to increase group longevity and lead to more ‘shocking attacks’. A recent post in this blog makes the case that competition between ISIS and al Qaeda has contributed to the escalation in the level of violence used by ISIS. The GIA in Algeria were also locked in heated competition with rival Islamic Salvation Army (AIS). The two sides exchanged threats, direct attacks, and assassinations of each others leadership, while fighting in a civil conflict with thousands of casualties. To distance itself from the more brutal GIA, the AIS focused attacks primarily on government targets. The AIS then engaged in negotiations with the Algerian government, agreed to a ceasefire, and even offered the Algerian Government assistance in fighting the GIA. The Algerian case may provide some hope that groups involved in the conflict in Syria and Iraq that are more ‘moderate’, at least in terms of the tactics they employ, may be able to reconcile their differences and potentially aid in fighting ISIS. However, determining which groups are moderate is also a challenge, as many groups in the conflict have affiliations with al Qaeda, or hold views similar to ISIS.”

 

The Graveyard of Caliphates” (Nathaniel Barr and Bridget Moreng, Foreign Affairs)

“In April 2014, ISIS succeeded in securing the defections of nine al Qaeda emirs hailing from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran in what was deemed the “Khorasan pledge.” This pledge initially sparked speculation that ISIS could secure significant support from al Qaeda in the Khorasan region. But since this pledge, ISIS has struggled to secure additional defections from Khorasan-based al Qaeda operatives. Outside of Afghanistan, ISIS’s efforts to peel militants away from al Qaeda have yielded mixed results. Though the group has managed to acquire pledges of allegiance from Boko Haram and the Sinai Peninsula’s Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, two groups that were previously in al Qaeda’s orbit, no official al Qaeda affiliates have defected to ISIS. In fact, groups like al Shabab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continue to rebuff ISIS’ expansion efforts, with al Shabab aggressively targeting ISIS sympathizers in Somalia. ISIS’ struggles thus far suggest that it will need more than a snappy propaganda initiative to chip away at the al Qaeda network. ISIS has struggled to navigate Afghanistan’s complex web of tribal, ethnic, and religious relationships. In other words, propaganda and spin can only take ISIS so far in Afghanistan. Until the group’s leaders better understand the complex politics of Afghanistan, they may find themselves stymied in the graveyard of empires.”

-J. Dana Stuster

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