The Middle East Channel

A series of car bombings kill dozens in central and southern Iraq

Several deadly bombings hit Iraq as Shiite Muslims commemorated the birth of the 12 th imam. A truck bombing killed an estimated 29 people and injured up to 50 in a market near a Shiite mosque in the city of Diwaniya, in southern Iraq. In the central city of Karbala, two roadside car bombs at ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Several deadly bombings hit Iraq as Shiite Muslims commemorated the birth of the 12 th imam. A truck bombing killed an estimated 29 people and injured up to 50 in a market near a Shiite mosque in the city of Diwaniya, in southern Iraq. In the central city of Karbala, two roadside car bombs at a vegetable market targeted Shiite pilgrims, killing up to five people and injuring at least 30 others. Additional blasts in the Sunni majority city of Taji, about 12 miles north of Baghdad, hit a military base, killing three people and injuring 15. No one has taken responsibility for the attacks. While violence has been down since its peak in 2006 through 2007 in Iraq, sectarian attacks have spiked in recent weeks. According to Reuters, attacks killed at least 237 people and wounded 603 in June, making it one of the most violent months since U.S. troops withdrew in December 2011.

Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has expressed regret for the downing of a Turkish F-4 Phantom jet on June 22. In an interview on Sunday with Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, Assad initially offered no apology, insisting the warplane was shot down over Syrian territory. However, while details of the incident are still under dispute, Assad spoke to Cumhuriyet on Tuesday stating, "I say 100 percent, I wish we did not shoot it down." He insisted that Syria believed it to be an Israeli plane. While Turkey is ramping up forces along the Syrian border, Assad said he would not allow tensions to escalate into "armed conflict" between the two former allies. At the same time, Turkey’s state television, Andolou, reported a Syrian general and 85 soldiers have sought refuge in Turkey in a growing wave of defections from the Syrian army. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch released a report Tuesday saying Syria is running 27 torture centers across the country. It included tens of thousands of cases in which people had been detained by the Department of Military Intelligence, the Political Security Directorate, the General Intelligence Directorate, and the Air Force Intelligence Directorate. The human rights watchdog called for the United Nations Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and chastised Russia for "holding its protective hand over the people who are responsible for this."

Headlines  

  • Iran reportedly test fired several long-range ballistic missiles. Meanwhile, the United States has deployed significant military reinforcements to the Persian Gulf.
  • Libya released four International Criminal Court workers on Monday after holding them for nearly four weeks on allegations of spying for Muammar al-Qaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam.
  • According to the Bahraini government, 15 police officers have been charged with "mistreatment" of prisoners in part of an investigation into the torture of protesters after demonstrations in February 2011.

Arguments & Analysis 

Electing a new Libya‘ (Frederic Wehrey, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

"Yet, in the end, local agendas will likely win the day. Voters will be drawn to candidates based on tribe, local connections, and business ties rather than ideology or broad-based political platforms. The stature of the leading figure is also important-Libyans refer to the parties less by their name and more by the head or founder of the party…I think it is safe to be guardedly optimistic about Libya’s transition. On one level, Libya is transitioning effectively just by virtue of holding elections. On another, oil production is exceeding expectations by already surpassing pre-war levels, providing much-needed funds to help stabilize the economy and state."

An Iranian Storyteller’s Personal Revolution‘ (Larry Rohter, The New York Times)

"After being arrested in 1974 by the Savak, the shah’s secret police, the Iranian writer Mahmoud Dowlatabadi asked his interrogators just what crime he had committed. "None," he recalled them responding, "but everyone we arrest seems to have copies of your novels, so that makes you provocative to revolutionaries." Since then Iran has, of course, experienced an Islamic revolution and three decades of theocratic rule, and Mr. Dowlatabadi, now 71, has gone on to write numerous other books, including "The Colonel," which has just been published in the United States. But one thing remains unchanged: Those in power in Iran continue to regard him and his work as subversive."

The Real Reason the U.S. Should Consider Cutting Military Aid to Egypt‘ (Shadi Hamid, The Atlantic)

"Suspending aid is unlikely to change SCAF’s behavior in the short-run, as my Brookings colleague Bruce Riedel warns. Blocking the transfer of military equipment to Egypt would be important but probably not important enough, particularly for an Egyptian military that sees itself as fighting an existential battle for control of the nation. It might seem counterintuitive to claim that freezing military assistance could "work," even if it fails to alter the SCAF’s autocratic practices. But this is exactly the point — it’s imperative for the U.S. to move beyond a reactive, day-to-day strategy in Egypt. There is a widespread perception in Egypt and the broader Middle East that American demands can be ignored if they fall outside of the core U.S. interests: the peace treaty with Israel, over-flight rights (in case there is military action against Iran), access to the Suez Canal, and counter-terrorism. Anything else is seen as just rhetoric."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

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