Israel and Turkey Announce Agreement to Restore Diplomatic Ties
Israel and Turkey formally announced an agreement to normalize diplomatic relations today. The agreement, which was finalized yesterday and has been hinted at by diplomats for weeks, will renew official diplomatic ties, including the exchange of embassies. The feud between Israel and Turkey began six years ago when Israeli troops killed 10 people as they ...
Israel and Turkey formally announced an agreement to normalize diplomatic relations today. The agreement, which was finalized yesterday and has been hinted at by diplomats for weeks, will renew official diplomatic ties, including the exchange of embassies. The feud between Israel and Turkey began six years ago when Israeli troops killed 10 people as they boarded the Mavi Marmara, a ship launched from Turkey by pro-Palestinian activists to break the blockade of Gaza. The Israeli government has since apologized for the incident and Israeli-Turkish ties have been improving since a conciliatory phone call in 2013. Under the agreement, Israel will pay $20 million to the families of the activists killed on the Mavi Marmara. Though Turkey had stressed that the lifting of the Gaza blockade was a necessary condition for restoring ties, the blockade will remain in place but Turkey will be allowed to deliver humanitarian aid through the neighboring Israeli port of Ashdod. The timing of the agreement creates opportunities for “lucrative Mediterranean gas deals,” Reuters reports.
Iraqi Military Declares Victory in Fallujah
The Iraqi military has declared victory in Fallujah after clearing Islamic State militants from the Jolan neighborhood of the city. According to the Iraqi commander of the operation, approximately 1,800 Islamic State fighters were killed over more than a month of fighting. Fallujah had been occupied by the terrorist group for more than two years. Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi tweeted that 90 percent of the city is safe and habitable after the fighting, raising hopes that civilians who fled could return home soon, but the Norwegian Refugee Council, which has responded to the dislocation of the city’s residents, has said it is unclear if the city is safe yet. People fleeing the city have overwhelmed nearby refugee camps and are living in conditions insufficient to protect them from the heat.
- Four suicide bombers, believed to be from the Islamic State, attacked the northern Lebanese town of Qaa this morning, killing five people and wounding at least 12 others.
- Jordanian intelligence officials have stolen large quantities of weapons provided by the United States and Saudi Arabia for distribution to Syrian rebels and sold them on the black market, including the weapon used in an attack in November that killed two U.S. personnel in Amman, according to an FBI investigation reported by the New York Times and Al-Jazeera.
- The Islamic State is engaging in an aggressive campaign of abducting Kurdish civilians in Aleppo province and forcing them to build defenses against a potential advance by Kurdish and other rebel forces from the Manbij pocket; at least 900 Kurds have been abducted in the past three weeks, according to reports.
- Palestinian men armed with stones and fireworks clashed with Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Saturday and Sunday.
- Seven people were killed yesterday in airstrikes conducted by the Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen; despite the proposal of a “roadmap” at peace talks in Kuwait last week, negotiations to end the war have stagnated.
Arguments and Analysis
“Speaking Nonsense to Power: Misadventures in Dissent over Syria” (Jeremy Shapiro, War on the Rocks)
“There are a couple of big problems with this approach. First, the Assad regime’s external supporters, principally the Russians and Iranians, have roughly the same idea about negotiating from a position of strength. The United States and its regional allies have intervened and escalated in Syria many times since 2011, even if they have not taken the more forceful measures advocated in the cable. The Iranians and Russians always responded in kind with more support to the Assad regime. This includes the 2015 Russian intervention, which stemmed from a fear that the end of Assad’s regime was near. The end result of these combined efforts at negotiating from strength has been an endless cycle of escalation and war. Frankly, it is a bit bizarre to seek to end bombing by bombing more. And indeed, history suggests it rarely succeeds when the enemy has external supporters.”
“What Could Brexit Mean for the Middle East?” (Koert Debeuf, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy)
“Another important aspect of Brexit is that the UK is one of the few European countries with a real foreign policy. The UK has the highest military expenditure of Europe, and it has probably the finest diplomatic corps in the world. We might complain about the British role in the Middle East in the past 130 years, but at least they had a role. Because of its colonial past in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Iran and the Gulf and because of its oil companies, Britain has an interest in the Middle East and thus knowledge of the region. This was highly useful in European decision-making. By losing the UK as a member-state, the EU loses one of its foreign policy heavyweights. Without Britain, Europe is weaker.”
-J. Dana Stuster
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