Report

Iraqi Forces Advance to Center of Fallujah

The Iraqi military has advanced to the center of Islamic State-occupied Fallujah and retaken a government compound. The new push, which comes in the fourth week of the Iraqi offensive to capture Fallujah, also wrested control of several neighborhoods in the south and east of the city from militants. The advances were made by Iraq’s ...

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The Iraqi military has advanced to the center of Islamic State-occupied Fallujah and retaken a government compound. The new push, which comes in the fourth week of the Iraqi offensive to capture Fallujah, also wrested control of several neighborhoods in the south and east of the city from militants. The advances were made by Iraq’s elite counterterrorism forces and encountered little resistance according to Iraqi military commanders, who say militants are trying to flee the city to the west. “The top leaders are mostly gone and those left behind to defend the city are not their best fighters, which explains their performance,” one Iraqi official told the Guardian. The Iraqi military says it now controls about half of the city.

State Department Officials Advocate Strikes Against Assad Regime

A memo signed by 51 U.S. State Department officials filed through the “dissent channel” argues in favor of U.S. airstrikes against the Assad regime to pressure the Syrian military to abide by a partial ceasefire and encourage a political transition. The memo, which was obtained by the New York Times, reportedly acknowledges the risks involved in strikes against Assad but downplays the threat of confrontation with Russia. The signatories are primarily “midlevel officials” and “career diplomats,” reports the Times.

Headlines

  • Both black boxes, the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, have been recovered from the wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 804 and sent to investigators to determine the cause of the crash.

 

  • Emirati State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash walked back comments he made about the UAE’s involvement in Yemen, telling a radio station today that “we are at war. I am appalled that my statement was taken out of context and misinterpreted for external agenda that seek to undermine the region and the GCC in particular.”

 

  • A new U.N. report concludes that the Islamic State is conducting an ongoing genocide against the Yazidi population in Iraq and provides a roadmap for possible prosecution; if recognized by the United Nations, it would be the first time a non-state actor has been recognized as committing genocide.

 

  • Doctors without Borders announced today it would not accept donations or funding from the European Union or its individual member states in protest of the EU refugee agreement with Turkey; “The EU-Turkey deal…has placed the very concept of ‘refugee’ and the protection it offers in danger,” Doctors without Borders’ Jerome Oberreit said in a statement.

 

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Norway earlier this week to discuss Iran’s frustrations about the lack of foreign investment since sanctions were lifted earlier this year and said the United States would work to clarify what constitutes permissible business with Iran.

Arguments and Analysis

Defeating the Islamic State: A Bottom-Up Approach” (Ilan Goldenberg, Paul Scharre, and Nicholas Heras, Center for a New American Security)

“In western Syria, a more fundamental shift is needed. Rather than focusing first on coming to a political agreement, the United States should help build security and governance structures from the bottom up. It should emphasize arming and training local groups that are acceptable to the United States regardless of whether they are fighting Assad or ISIS. The purpose of this effort is not just to defeat ISIS but to have these groups marginalize other extremist actors and to create an acceptable, sustainable, long-term governance and security situation, which eliminates future terrorist safe havens and marginalizes al Qaeda’s influence and presence. This approach should also include a greater willingness by the United States to use coercive military threats and, if necessary, limited military actions to deter the Assad regime and Russia from attacking these groups from the air, thus creating greater space for them to thrive and govern. The greater commitment to shaping this effort on the ground should be compelling to U.S. partners who have prioritized Assad’s fall over the threat from ISIS — most notably Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The next president should leverage that appeal and the initial goodwill that a new administration often enjoys to launch an early diplomatic effort to convince Saudi Arabia and Turkey to more closely coordinate their arming efforts in western Syria with the United States and also contribute more to the ISIS fight.”

 

The political implications of transforming Saudi and Iranian oil economies” (Emma Borden and Suzanne Maloney, Markaz)

“For the Saudi economy to be truly competitive, Riyadh would have to initiate dramatic changes to a central component of the Saudi social compact — women’s rights and freedoms. The Vision 2030 document boasts that over 50 percent of Saudi university graduates are women and pledges to ‘continue to develop their talents, invest in their productive capabilities and enable them to strengthen their future and contribute to the development of our society and economy.’ But the domestic Saudi labor force is overwhelmingly male, and even the plan’s modest aspirations to raise female participation in the workforce from 22 to 30 percent are likely to run into logistical and social obstacles. Shortly after announcing Vision 2030, Deputy Crown Prince Salman said Saudi Arabia is not yet ready to let women drive. A diversified economy will not emerge in the kind of constricted social environment mandated by the Saudi interpretation of sharia (Islamic law). Iran’s Islamic Republic doesn’t have the same degree of gender segregation, but Iran’s official interpretation of Islam has still constrained female participation in the workforce. Iran employs an equally low percentage of women — according to a 2014 U.N. report around 16 percent — and women’s unemployment is more than double that of men (nearly 20 percent). The bigger challenge for Iran will be truly opening up its economy to foreign direct investment.”

-J. Dana Stuster

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

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