Report

Russian Helicopter Crashes in Syria as Intervention Continues

A Russian Mi-28 attack helicopter crashed in Syria near Homs, killing two Russian servicemen. Russian officials said the cause of the crash is being investigated but that the helicopter was not shot down. The helicopter is part of a new deployment of advanced military hardware that Russia has sent to its bases in Syria, despite ...

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A Russian Mi-28 attack helicopter crashed in Syria near Homs, killing two Russian servicemen. Russian officials said the cause of the crash is being investigated but that the helicopter was not shot down. The helicopter is part of a new deployment of advanced military hardware that Russia has sent to its bases in Syria, despite a drawdown announced last month.

The Assad regime will hold parliamentary elections beginning tomorrow, ahead of the resumption of peace talks. Opposition groups have dismissed the elections as illegitimate. “I don’t know how they can really announce an election in Syria. In Idlib or in Aleppo or in Deir al-Zor or in Homs, can people go there and vote?” an opposition spokesman said. Over the weekend, Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halaki said the regime is preparing an offensive to retake rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo, a move that would collapse the partial ceasefire.

Arab Youth Rank Islamic State as Top Threat in New Poll

New polling demonstrates the extent of the Islamic State’s unpopularity in the Arab World. A majority of respondents said the Islamic State is the foremost problem facing the region, and nearly eighty percent of Arab youth, polled in the annual 16-country Arab Youth Survey, say they could not support the group even if it renounced violence and its extreme brutality. Turkish troops engaged in cross-border shelling with the Islamic State near the border town of Kilis. Islamic State rockets fired into Turkey have wounded 21 people in the past two days.

Headlines

  • As the ceasefire in Yemen enters its second day, U.N. officials report that the truce is largely holding despite “pockets of violence,” especially in Taiz; in Aden, four men were killed when a suicide bomber, believed to be a jihadist and not covered by the ceasefire, detonated near a crowd of army recruits.

 

  • An explosion in Sidon, Lebanon, this morning killed local Fatah official Fathi Zeidan, the security chief at the Mieh Mieh refugee camp; the blast occurred near the Ein el-Hilweh camp, which has been the site of recent clashes between Fatah and extremist groups.

 

  • A car bomb crashed into a dormitory used by Turkish security personnel and their families, killing two people and wounding 50 others in the southeastern city of Hani, where Turkish troops continue to fight PKK militia; the Turkish military responded with large military operations in Hani and surrounding areas backed by air support.

 

  • A report compiled by the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms found that there have been 204 enforced disappearances in Egypt from Dec. 2015 through March 2016; of those, 101 remain missing.

 

  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has filed a complaint in Germany against a comedian who recited a sexually explicit satirical poem about Turkey’s treatment of Kurds and Christians; Jan Boehmermann, who hosts a late-night television program, was already under investigation by German authorities for the crime of “offending foreign states’ organs and representatives.”

Arguments and Analysis

Arab Spring: Unreformed policing hampers transitions” (Yezid Sayigh, Al-Jazeera)

“Three kinds of dilemmas stand in the way of security sector reform. The first is ‘hyperpoliticisation’: Every aspect of transition becomes a zero-sum contest between rival political camps, paralysing governance. For large numbers of citizens, government legitimacy is determined by its ability to repress political or social actors that are seen as threatening — rather than on its readiness to deliver democracy, rule of law, and human rights — resulting in a restoration of authoritarian practices. As a result, violence becomes the ‘currency’ through which both governance and opposition are exercised. The high financial cost of modernising and professionalising security sectors poses a second, ‘political economy’ dilemma.”

 

Tunisia uncovered a history of state sexual violence. Can it do anything?” (Hind Ahmed Zaki, Monkey Cage)

“The extent of the use of rape as a weapon of political intimidation and the number of women who had suffered from sexual abuse at the hands of state agents was surprising, even to those following Tunisian affairs closely. Since the commission began to hear testimonies from more than 20,000 victims, an ugly picture of the state’s systematic use of sexual violence against female members of the opposition and female relatives of opposition members began to emerge. According to the commissioners, between June 2014 and December 2015, thousands of women came forward, recounting stories of being raped and tortured while held in detention, some suffering serious physical and psychological injuries that would last for decades. Tunisia’s nascent transitional justice process initially focused on government corruption and human rights violations in general without a special focus on gender-based violence. The true extent of the systematic use of rape and sexual assault against women by the Tunisian state became clear only after the commission started hearing testimonies from hundreds of female survivors of sexual violence. While women were victims of imprisonment, travel bans and constant government harassment like their male counterparts, they also faced another threat — that of rape and sexual assault.”

-J. Dana Stuster

PAUL GYPTEAU/AFP/Getty Images

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