The U.S. Justice Department is reviewing documents submitted by the Turkish government to evaluate Ankara’s request to extradite Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based cleric that the government claims is responsible for the failed July 15 coup attempt. So far, Turkey has submitted 85 boxes of documents as evidence. While the materials are still being reviewed and State Department spokesman Mark Toner said yesterday that a determination has not been made, U.S. officials say that, so far, they are unconvinced by Turkey’s case. Discussions about the extradition request, though, are expected to continue for several months.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, has warned previously that denying the extradition request could damage U.S.-Turkey relations. The Turkish government has hired APCO Worldwide, a global public relations firm, to provide crisis communications in the United States for the next two weeks. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to visit Turkey at the end of August.
Libyan Politicians Oppose U.S. Intervention in Sirte
U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Sirte, Libya, have buoyed the morale of forces loyal to the Government of National Accord, who have been fighting to retake the city since May. “We hope they will intensify the air strikes in the coming days for us to make progress on the battlefield,” a pro-government militiaman told AFP. The airstrikes hit critical Islamic State position and “victory will be close if there are more such hits,” he said. The U.S. intervention was requested by Government of National Accord Prime Minster Fayez Seraj, but has drawn criticism from other political figures, including rivals Gen. Khalifa Hafter, the head of the Libyan National Army, and Sadek Al-Ghariani, the leader of a major Islamist alliance opposed to both Hafter and Seraj’s governments.
Editor’s Note: The Mideast Brief daily newsletter will cease publication today, Aug. 5, 2016. But Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel will continue to be the home of daily thought-provoking content on the politics, trends, and latest news and breaking analysis from across the region.
- The Egyptian military announced that it killed Abu Duaa al-Ansari, the leader of Sinai Province, the Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula, in a series of airstrikes near Al-Arish.
- Ali Gomaa, a former Grand Mufti who has been critical of the Muslim Brotherhood, survived an assassination attempt at a mosque west of Cairo today; the gunmen escaped on a motorcycle after wounding one of Gomaa’s bodyguards.
- The Islamic State has captured as many as 3,000 civilians fleeing their control in Hawiga, Iraq, toward the city of Kirkuk, according to a U.N. report; at least 12 of those caught fleeing were killed.
- In a report on the crisis in Yemen, the United Nations assessed that Houthis have used civilians as human shields and that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State have improved the position in the country.
- The United States and Israel concluded a round of negotiations on a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding that would delineate U.S. military aid to Israel; the two sides said they are nearing an agreement but a few issues remain.
- An airstrike, believed to have been carried out by a U.S. drone, killed two suspected al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants at a checkpoint Yemen’s Shabwa province.
Arguments and Analysis
“In Egypt, an Italian student’s research stirred suspicion before he died” (Michael Georgy, Reuters Investigates)
“It remains unclear who killed Regeni or why. But piecing together his activity in the months leading up to his death, it is apparent that two factors put the student at risk: his passionate interest in political and economic issues and his belief that Egypt needed change. Three Egyptian security sources have told Reuters that Regeni raised the suspicions of Egypt’s security services because he met unionists and was researching politically sensitive subjects. ‘Homeland Security had monitored Regeni with a number of opposition leaders and labour unions. He attended several meetings,’ one of the sources said. A second security source said: ‘He is a foreigner and does not work in the media … and this is what made Homeland Security follow and monitor him.’ A third security source said that Regeni’s meetings were suspicious because they took place at ‘a time in which many nations were intervening in what is happening in Egypt.’ This, he said, raised the possibility that the Italian was gathering information for a foreign nation. But other Egyptian security officials said that even if agents were watching Regeni’s activities they played no role in his death.”
“Law and Lawfare in the Islamic State” (Mara Revkin, Lawfare)
“Historians and political scientists have long recognized that legal institutions greatly facilitate the formation of modern states by legitimizing violence, protecting economic transactions and property rights, and justifying taxation and military conscription. If we take seriously the “state” in ‘Islamic State,’ then we should also take seriously the institutional building blocks of that state, including its legal system. Like all legal systems, the Islamic State’s has (1) rules—based on the divinely revealed body of Islamic law known as shari‘a—(2) a judiciary to apply them, and (3) a law enforcement apparatus to ensure compliance. The Islamic State appears to be using this legal system to advance at least three different state-building objectives: (1) establishing a legal basis for territorial sovereignty and expansion; (2) enforcing internal discipline within the Islamic State’s own ranks; and (3) justifying taxation, which has become an increasingly important source of revenue for the group.”
-J. Dana Stuster
ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images