The Middle East Channel

Wave of attacks targets security forces in Iraq’s Anbar province

A series of seemingly coordinated attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers killed up to 25 police officers and three civilians in Iraq’s western Anbar province late Tuesday night. Up to 35 people were also injured in the assaults. Four of the attacks targeted a police station and checkpoints in the town of Rutba, about 70 ...

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

A series of seemingly coordinated attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers killed up to 25 police officers and three civilians in Iraq’s western Anbar province late Tuesday night. Up to 35 people were also injured in the assaults. Four of the attacks targeted a police station and checkpoints in the town of Rutba, about 70 miles from the Syrian border. Gunmen also hit a checkpoint in Ramadi, killing three security forces and injuring a fourth. No one has taken responsibility for the attacks, although al Qaeda linked militants have frequently targeted Iraq’s security forces. Iraqi forces have stepped up a campaign, called "revenge for the Martyrs," in the past two months in Baghdad arresting hundreds of suspected al Qaeda members. The measures, which have targeted mainly Sunni neighborhoods, have angered the Sunni community and failed to quell violence. Over 520 people have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of October, and the United Nations reported 979 people were killed in September attacks.

Syria

Syrian authorities have released up to 14 women in part of a three-way prisoner exchange. On October 18, Syrian rebels released nine Lebanese men detained for 17 months and Lebanese gunmen freed two Turkish pilots that were abducted in August. According to activists, there are 128 additional women who are expected to be released. Meanwhile, meeting with Western and Arab foreign ministers in London, the opposition Syrian National Coalition laid out demands for its participation in proposed peace talks in Geneva. Making prospects for the conference increasingly dim, Coalition President Ahmad al-Jarba said the group would not take part unless the objective of the talks is the removal from power of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Additionally, Jarba said it would be difficult for opposition representatives to attend the Geneva conference unless the Syrian government releases detained women and children, and ends the siege of opposition-held territory around Damascus and Homs. Jarba stated the SNC will make a final decision on participation in 10 days, but continued that there will be "no negotiations or reconciliation with the Syrian regime."

Headlines

  • Jerusalem’s secular Mayor Nir Barkat has been reelected for a second term, defeating his right-wing and ultra-Orthodox backed opponent, Moshe Lion.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is working to ease tensions with Saudi Arabia, holding meetings with Prince Saud al-Faisal, acknowledging disappointment with U.S. policy on Syria.
  • Renewed clashes in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli between residents of the Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhoods killed a 13-year-old boy and injured an estimated 14 people.
  • A Bahraini teenager, who was wanted for "criminal offenses," was killed when a bomb exploded in his hands, according to police.

Arguments and Analysis

Beauty of the Pleiades‘ (Turki Al-Faisal, Cairo Review of Global Affairs)

"The Iranian leadership has the opportunity to share so much of Iran’s heritage and wisdom with other Muslims. But if they wish to gain the respect of other countries, they must first show respect to the traditions, heritage, and political identity of their peers. The election of Hassan Rowhani, who does not claim Arab lineage, may be an opportunity for Iran to trim its sails and steer a new course in the turbulent waters of the Middle East; or it may not. After all, Rafsanjani and Khatami came to office with progressive ambitions only to be stymied by Khamenei. The 2009 election upheaval was a sign that things are not as usual; nor is the tranquility of the 2013 election. Rowhani will have to deliver before others take him seriously. King Abdullah welcomed Rowhani’s election and wished him well, the King also invited the new President to perform Hajj this year, which unfortunately, he has declined to accept. Saudi Arabia favors engagement with Iran, and President Obama’s overture to Rowhani will hopefully lead to Iran’s return to the International community as a contributor to peace and stability. Rowhani’s sensible discourse is in distinct contrast to Ahmedinejad’s bluster and bombast. With the world community opening its arms to embrace Rowhani, his major obstacle lies in the forces of darkness in Qum and Tehran. He has to shed Khomeini’s interventionist legacy and, like his own discourse, adopt sensible policies."

Sinai Security: Opportunities for Unlikely Cooperation Among Egypt, Israel, and Hamas‘ (Zach Gold, Brookings Institution)

"Despite all the changes taking place in Egypt and the broader Middle East following the Arab uprisings, the Egyptian-Israeli relationship remains surprisingly strong. There is a shared understanding of interests and threats, as well as a high degree of communication between the two sides. The biggest problem is not disagreement about threats but disagreement over how to address them. In many ways, addressing these threats in concert will involve an increased capability on the Egyptian side.

A better understanding of the Egypt-Israel-Hamas relationship on the part of Washington would assuage concerns of Egyptian instability or Israeli security. Congress and the administration can help strengthen this cooperation by providing Egypt with the tools and training necessary for counterterrorism and counter-smuggling operations. The Obama administration should also give the Egyptian government the space to engage with Hamas — which, at times, will be more cooperative than current U.S. policy supports — while continuing to push the Egyptian government to meet its own security needs: needs that, more often than not, align with Israeli and U.S. interests as well."

–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

 Twitter: @casey_mary

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