Report

French Soldiers Killed in Helicopter Crash in Libya

Three French soldiers were killed conducting intelligence operations in Libya, French President Francois Hollande said today. The casualties are the first official acknowledgement by the French government that they have troops operating in Libya, though France has been doing reconnaissance missions in the country since last December and the presence of special forces has been ...

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Three French soldiers were killed conducting intelligence operations in Libya, French President Francois Hollande said today. The casualties are the first official acknowledgement by the French government that they have troops operating in Libya, though France has been doing reconnaissance missions in the country since last December and the presence of special forces has been reported by French newspaper Le Monde. The soldiers were reportedly killed in a helicopter accident. French and Libyan officials have refused to comment on speculation that the crash occurred in Benghazi on Sunday; four Libyans were reported killed in that incident.

Turkey Cracks Down on Academics after Coup

Turkey’s post-coup crackdown shifted to academia on Tuesday. The government demanded the resignation of more than 1,500 university deans, and effectively fired 21,000 teachers and 15,000 employees of the Education Ministry. Further measures may be implemented in coming days: The government has ordered all teachers and professors to return to work, canceling the summer vacation, and barred academics from traveling outside the country.

The country’s National Security Council is meeting today to discuss the government’s response to the coup. Erdogan has suggested important decisions may be announced after the meeting.

Headlines

  • A video was released on the internet of Syrian rebels from the Nour al-Din al-Zinki group, which until September 2015 received U.S. aid as part of the vetted moderate opposition, beheading a young boy they claim is a pro-Assad agent captured in the Handarat Palestinian refugee camp near Aleppo; the rebel group’s leadership issued a statement calling the beheading “an individual error” not indicative of the group’s general conduct.

 

  • The Israeli Knesset passed a controversial law that would allow the Knesset to expel elected members of the legislature with a two-thirds vote by the parliamentary body if they are found to be inciting racism or violence against the state of Israel.

 

  • WikiLeaks released the first tranche of hundreds of thousands of emails from officials in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Ergdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP); Turkish officials have downplayed the significance of the leak but blocked access to WikiLeaks’ site in Turkey.

 

  • Responding to reports of high civilian casualties in Manbij and Tokhar, Syria, the U.S. military acknowledged it had carried out airstrikes in the area and is conducting a review; a community leader in Manbij told Al-Jazeera that the Islamic State is using residents as human shields but that the Syrian Democratic Forces and coalition “have decided to adopt a scorched earth policy.”

 

  • Turkish F-16s carried out airstrikes on Kurdistan Workers Party targets in the Hakurk region of Iraq, killing approximately 20 suspected militants, according to Turkish media.

Arguments and Analysis

The Fantasy of Disengagement” (Thanassis Cambanis, Cairo Review of Global Affairs)

“It’s understandable that President Obama harbored a fantasy of washing his hands of the whole mess. The United States failed to achieve its goals in Iraq and Afghanistan despite killing many people and committing a great deal of resources. The results in Libya are more equivocal and America’s responsibility more broadly shared, but hardly make a case for successful U.S. intervention. But the alternative to reckless interventionism cannot realistically be disengagement. The region’s conflicts implicate the United States and plenty of other foreign powers, along with the whole ethnic, sectarian and ideological panoply of a region that, despite generations of ethnic cleansing, hosts a staggering amount of diversity. America bears heavy responsibility as Israel’s guarantor power, which inextricably ties Washington to Israel’s conflicts with Palestinians and other regional players. Far too late in the game, Obama has learned that saying that something doesn’t matter doesn’t necessarily make it so.”

 

The Saudis can’t rein in Islamic State. They lost control of global Salafism long ago.” (F. Gregory Gause III, Los Angeles Times)

“Salafism morphed into a religious movement with a number of political manifestations, only one of which was the blend of social conservatism and political quietism represented by the official Saudi variant. This means that leaning on the Saudis to become ‘less Wahhabi’ is unlikely to have much effect on jihadist movements like Al Qaeda and Islamic State. They and their followers look to other sources of political and doctrinal inspiration, not the official Saudi clerics. The jihadist groups draw some of their adherents from Saudi Arabia, but the vast majority of Saudi Muslims, including the vast majority of Saudi Wahhabis, reject these groups. Saudi Wahhabism can be a path toward jihadism, but it is hardly the only one. Tunisia, probably the most secular state in the Arab world and the one relative success story of the Arab Spring, has sent more jihadists to Syria than has Saudi Arabia. The Europeans and Americans attracted by the propaganda of Islamic State did not grow up in the milieu of official Saudi Wahhabism. Global Salafism is now unmoored from its Saudi origins.”

-J. Dana Stuster

MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/Getty Images

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