Syrian and rebel forces clash in Aleppo as top envoy to Britain defects

Fighting continues in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, although neither government forces nor opposition fighters made decisive gains. Both sides claim they have control of Salahedinne, a district on a main road the army could use for bringing in reinforcements. The opposition appears to control an arc including the eastern and southwestern districts, and aims to ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Fighting continues in Aleppo, Syria's largest city, although neither government forces nor opposition fighters made decisive gains. Both sides claim they have control of Salahedinne, a district on a main road the army could use for bringing in reinforcements. The opposition appears to control an arc including the eastern and southwestern districts, and aims to move toward the city center. Helicopter gunfire was reported for the first time in the battle in the eastern districts. Additional clashes have taken place near the Air Force Intelligence agency headquarters. A U.N. convoy was reportedly hit by small arms in an opposition-controlled area of Rastan after crossing through a government checkpoint. On Monday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that violence in Syria has impeded the observer mission preventing it from carrying out its full duties. But, it will continue to assist by patrolling and facilitating local ceasefires. Syria's top diplomat to Britain, Khaled al-Ayoubi, has resigned in protest of the Assad government, calling on remaining members of the regime to step down. Turkey has deployed additional troops, tanks, and ground-to-air missiles along the Syrian border, as their concerns increase over Syria allowing border districts to fall into the control of Kurds. Meanwhile, Iran warned Turkey not to intervene militarily, saying, "Any attack on Syrian territory will [be] met with a harsh response, and the Iranian-Syrian mutual defense agreement will be activated."

Headlines  

The kidnapper of an Italian embassy guard has been identified and is asking for $70,000 ransom. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney's comments in Israel racist, and said it seems he lacks "understanding of this region and its people." U.S. Congressional negotiators have struck a deal, on new sanctions on Iran, further restricting oil revenue as well as the shipping and insuring of oil cargo. They hope to pass the bill this week. An Iranian court has sentenced four people to death over a $2.6 billion bank loan embezzlement scandal that has implicated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government.

Fighting continues in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, although neither government forces nor opposition fighters made decisive gains. Both sides claim they have control of Salahedinne, a district on a main road the army could use for bringing in reinforcements. The opposition appears to control an arc including the eastern and southwestern districts, and aims to move toward the city center. Helicopter gunfire was reported for the first time in the battle in the eastern districts. Additional clashes have taken place near the Air Force Intelligence agency headquarters. A U.N. convoy was reportedly hit by small arms in an opposition-controlled area of Rastan after crossing through a government checkpoint. On Monday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that violence in Syria has impeded the observer mission preventing it from carrying out its full duties. But, it will continue to assist by patrolling and facilitating local ceasefires. Syria’s top diplomat to Britain, Khaled al-Ayoubi, has resigned in protest of the Assad government, calling on remaining members of the regime to step down. Turkey has deployed additional troops, tanks, and ground-to-air missiles along the Syrian border, as their concerns increase over Syria allowing border districts to fall into the control of Kurds. Meanwhile, Iran warned Turkey not to intervene militarily, saying, "Any attack on Syrian territory will [be] met with a harsh response, and the Iranian-Syrian mutual defense agreement will be activated."

Headlines  

  • The kidnapper of an Italian embassy guard has been identified and is asking for $70,000 ransom.
  • Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s comments in Israel racist, and said it seems he lacks "understanding of this region and its people."
  • U.S. Congressional negotiators have struck a deal, on new sanctions on Iran, further restricting oil revenue as well as the shipping and insuring of oil cargo. They hope to pass the bill this week.
  • An Iranian court has sentenced four people to death over a $2.6 billion bank loan embezzlement scandal that has implicated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.

Arguments & Analysis 

The Mirage State of Egypt‘ (Mahmoud Salem, The Daily News Egypt)

"Technically we believe Egypt to be a functioning state: it has institutions, democracy, elections, laws, economy, judiciary, police, a military, parties, political activists, a prime minister and a president. Unfortunately, while it seems like we have all the trappings of a country and a state; it’s more like an optical illusion. None of it is the real thing. We have institutions that have employees and budgets and paper work, but almost nonexistent output; we have a democracy, but that is only in so far as we have elections; we have elections where the voters vote for the symbol but have no clue who they are voting for or what the candidate’s policies or history is; we have laws that don’t get enforced unless there is a political will behind it…The Mirage State."

‘Iraq’s Secular Opposition: The Rise and Decline of Al-Iraqiya‘ (International Crisis Group)

"A key player in the political crisis currently unfolding in Baghdad is the Al-Iraqiya Alliance, a cross-confessional, predominantly Sunni, mostly secular coalition of parties that came together almost three years ago in an effort to replace Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the March 2010 elections. It failed then, and its flailing efforts now, along with those of other parties, to unseat Maliki through a parliamentary no-confidence vote highlight Iraqiya’s waning power as a force that could limit the prime minister’s authority. They also show that what remains of the country’s secular middle class lacks an influential standard bearer to protect its interests and project a middle ground in the face of ongoing sectarian tensions that Syria’s civil war risks escalating. Finally, they underline the marginalisation of Sunni Arabs and Sunni Turkomans by the Shiite-led government, further increasing the potential for violence."

Turkey must work with Syria’s Kurds‘ (Ranj Alaaldin, The Guardian)

"A Syrian Kurdistan, however, would offer a lifeline to the PKK in the same way the uprising in Syria has provided an opportunity for other political movements to assert their presence. Further, the PKK is closely linked in Syria to the Democratic Union party (PYD) which controls most of the liberated areas as part of a broader coalition of Kurdish parties in Syria, known as the People’s Council for Western Kurdistan (PCWK). The other main Kurdish opposition bloc of parties is called the Kurdish National Council (KNC)."

–By Jennifer Parker & Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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