Iraqi Troops Enter Fallujah
Iraqi forces pushed into Fallujah today after completing operations to surround the city over the weekend. Iraq’s Counterterrorism Service, a group of elite commandos, are leading a three-pronged assault against the city with air support from the U.S. coalition, but some reports have raised concerns about the role of Iranian-backed Shia militias and the presence ...
Iraqi forces pushed into Fallujah today after completing operations to surround the city over the weekend. Iraq’s Counterterrorism Service, a group of elite commandos, are leading a three-pronged assault against the city with air support from the U.S. coalition, but some reports have raised concerns about the role of Iranian-backed Shia militias and the presence of IRGC commander Qassim Suleimani as Iraqi forces try to retake the Sunni city. Approximately 1,000 Islamic State militants are believed to be in Fallujah, and have prevented the estimated 50,000 civilians from fleeing.
In northern Iraq, Kurdish Peshmerga forces, also with U.S. support, began operations on Sunday to retake areas east of Mosul. The Peshmerga have reportedly captured three villages in the first day of the new offensive. Agence France-Presse reported seeing what appeared to be U.S. military advisors working with Kurdish troops, but local forces would not confirm the identity of the commandos. The Islamic State continued its campaign of frequent car bomb attacks today, killing 24 people in attacks on the neighborhoods of Shaab and Sadr City in Baghdad, and in Tarmiyah, north of the capital.
Top Syrian Opposition Negotiator Resigns
Mohammed Alloush, the chief negotiator for the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee, announced his resignation from the HNC in a letter on Sunday. Alloush, who is also the political leader of the Jaysh al-Islam militia, cited the Assad regime’s intransigence in negotiations and the lack of progress on the delivery of humanitarian aid as reasons for his decision. His resignation complicates efforts by U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura to resume peace talks and restore a partial ceasefire. The ceasefire, when it was in effect, was a reported boon for Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, which did not participate in the truce, according to the Washington Post. Since March, Nusra has received 3,000 new recruits, compared to 200-300 each month before the ceasefire.
- Nearly 70 people were killed in Yemen as pro-government forces seized territory in Marib and Shabwa provinces from Houthi rebels despite a negotiated ceasefire.
- Fighters loyal to the U.N.-backed Libyan Government of National Accord have advanced to within 10 miles of the Islamic State-occupied city of Sirte; commanders say they plan to encircle the city and encourage civilians to flee.
- Ali Larijani, a “moderate conservative” and the longest-serving speaker of the Iranian parliament, was re-elected to the post on Sunday, defeating reformist parliamentarian Mohammed Reza Aref.
- An Egyptian court sentenced Mohamed Badie, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and 35 others to life in prison for inciting violence in July 2013; Badie has also been sentenced to death and other life sentences in other trials.
- The United Arab Emirates and Morocco, among other countries, have purchased technology from private spyware companies to monitor and intimidate political dissidents, according to the New York Times.
Arguments and Analysis
“Algeria on the Brink?” (Francisco Serrano, Foreign Affairs)
“Today, however, Algeria’s apparently unchangeable status quo faces a combination of internal and external challenges that could plunge the country into disorder. The collapse in global oil prices has ramped up the pressure on the country’s economy, leading to rising unemployment. Frustration at corruption and an overbearing state bureaucracy have strengthened protest movements across the country. The pressure comes at a bad time for Algeria’s ruling elites, who are struggling to work out what will happen when President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s rule comes to an end. Now 78, Bouteflika has ruled the country since 1999. But after suffering a stroke in 2013, he has rarely been seen in public, leading many to wonder what role he actually plays in managing daily affairs. When he does appear, wheelchair-bound and frail, he is the embodiment of the regime he represents: aged and aloof, part of a generation of 70-year-olds presiding over a country in which roughly 67 percent of the population is under 30.”
“Egypt’s next national security threat: all the single ladies?” (Rami Galal, Al-Monitor)
“Col. Ashraf Gamal, a member of the National Security Council, told Al-Monitor in this regard, ‘There is a phenomenon that has become an issue of national security, insofar as it constitutes a threat to the institution and stability of the Egyptian family, owing to the negative psychological effects it has on the family. Among its other negative ramifications for national security are the proliferation of crimes of rape and sexual harassment, which stem from sexual frustration or [people] entering into illicit [sexual] relations. As a result of this, another phenomenon — no less dangerous — has arisen: Egypt’s “street children.” [And another consequence has been] the spread of theft in order to raise the necessary dowry payments required for marriage….The current National Security Council has a new, unconventional vision. We believe that the concept of national security must be more broadly conceived than just what affects the army, the interior or homeland security. Our broader notion of national security is to not concentrate solely on the center and neglect the periphery that feeds the center. Everything — both small and large — that affects Egyptian society is the concern of national security. Our role will not be limited to the issues of spinsterism; rather, we have plans for the return of values and morals to Egyptian society. One might say, “What business are values and morals of yours? You’re not responsible for society.” But to them I would say that if old Egyptian values and morals returned, the crime rate would decline. For example, the Egyptian woman used to wear whatever clothes she liked — whether they were short or provocative — without it resulting in sexual harassment. And that was because society was once blessed with values that — among other things — stipulated that a man would never accost women in the street.’”
-J. Dana Stuster
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images