Report

U.N. Envoy Appeals for Renewed Ceasefire as Fighting Escalates in Aleppo

Fighting in Aleppo, Syria, is escalating, prompting concerns about an anticipated offensive by the Assad regime to capture the remaining rebel-held neighborhoods of the city. Thirty-eight civilians were killed today in rocket and artillery exchanges and airstrikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. One airstrike destroyed a hospital operated by Medecins sans Frontieres, ...

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Fighting in Aleppo, Syria, is escalating, prompting concerns about an anticipated offensive by the Assad regime to capture the remaining rebel-held neighborhoods of the city. Thirty-eight civilians were killed today in rocket and artillery exchanges and airstrikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. One airstrike destroyed a hospital operated by Medecins sans Frontieres, killing 14 patients and three doctors, including one of the last pediatricians working in Aleppo. An editorial in pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan called for retaking the whole city and its surrounding countryside. “It’s no secret that the Syrian army has prepared this decisive battle with its allies. It will not take long to begin, nor to finish,” it said.

U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura delivered a closed-door briefing to the U.N. Security Council by video from Geneva yesterday. He said he hopes to reconvene proximity talks in May but has not set a date. He also pressed the United States and Russia to “revitalize” the partial ceasefire that is collapsing in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, proposed blacklisting two rebel organizations that Russia considers to be terrorist groups, saying that Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham have broken the partial ceasefire agreement. Churkin’s comments reportedly prompted disagreement in the room and one diplomat said that blacklisting the groups would face an “uphill struggle.” Ahrar al-Sham is part of the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee, which recently withdrew from negotiations in Geneva.

Turkey Makes Arrests after Bombing in Bursa

Thirteen people were wounded in a suicide bombing in the city of Bursa, in northwestern Turkey. The attacker was a woman in her mid-twenties, according to authorities, and she detonated her explosives outside of an Ottoman-era mosque. Though no group has claimed credit for the attack, Turkish authorities have arrested 15 people in connection with the blast, mostly in Bursa but also in Istanbul and other cities.

Headlines

  • Russia has requested that the United States provide more details about its plans to deploy an additional 250 Special Forces troops to Syria.

 

  • Two people were wounded when a car bomb targeting the security chief for the city of Aden, Yemen, exploded outside his house.

 

  • Lebanese forces killed a regional commander for the Islamic State in the mountainous region near the Lebanon-Syria border city of Arsal, which has seen frequent spillover from the Syrian civil war.

 

  • The United States introduced a U.N. Security Council resolution yesterday that would renew the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara for another year and restore its “full functionality” after the Moroccan government ousted much of its civilian staff; a vote on the resolution is scheduled for Friday.

 

  • At least 12 people were killed in Bani Walid, Libya, when an altercation between a group of Egyptian migrants and Libyan smugglers turned violent; some of the Egyptians killed three of smugglers and a fourth smuggler then killed several Egyptians at a police station after their arrest.

Arguments and Analysis

Abadi’s Gamble with Technocracy” (Renad Mansour and Faleh A. Jabour, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

“The question, then, is: will Abadi’s gamble will pay off? In a speech following the chaotic developments in parliament and the vote against Jabouri, he criticized the state of the parliament and called for institutional order and the restoration of the speaker. Abadi’s gamble has seemingly made him several enemies: the protest movement is unhappy with his inability to move forward with technocracy and the major parliamentary blocs are unhappy with his unwillingness to consult with them. As a result, internal opponents who have been calling for a change at the top now have the voice to present a serious challenge. Despite these serious domestic challenges, a bizarre US-Iranian alliance has come out in support of Abadi. Washington and Tehran believe that the political crisis weakens the war effort against the Islamic State. Similarly, Abadi uses this argument to convince those instigating the current parliamentary crisis that it is not the right time. Yet, most of the protestors believe that reform would serve the war against the Islamic State. At the very least, the corrupt figures and structure may hold for some time, but the current political crisis shows that it can never be the same again.”

 

Obama is Right: The Gulf Arabs Ride Free on Terrorism” (David Andrew Weinberg, The National Interest)

“Indeed, the Gulf region stands at the intersection of two powerful and pivotal trends: fundamentalist ideological currents and enormous wealth from oil and natural gas. That confluence allegedly makes it a top source — some have argued the top source — of private donations to certain menacing terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hamas. Official sources told me earlier this year that Kuwait has yet to convict — or even indict on terror-finance charges — a single one of the ten or so living Kuwaiti nationals and residents who are subject to terror-finance sanctions by the United States and United Nations. They also indicated that one or two of the men may still be employed at Kuwait’s flagship state university, and the local press has reported that one sanctioned Kuwaiti has also been given his mosque pulpit back by order of the state. In Qatar, there is reason to believe circumstances are more or less the same.”

-J. Dana Stuster

AMEER ALHALBI/AFP/Getty Images

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