Syrian Refugees Top 3 Million

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, stated over 3 million people who have fled the conflict in Syria will have registered as refugees in neighboring countries as of Friday. Another 6.5 million people have become internally displace, so that about half of the Syrian population has been forced to leave their homes since fighting broke out ...

ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images
ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images
ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, stated over 3 million people who have fled the conflict in Syria will have registered as refugees in neighboring countries as of Friday. Another 6.5 million people have become internally displace, so that about half of the Syrian population has been forced to leave their homes since fighting broke out in March 2011. The United Nations estimates that hundreds of thousands of people have additionally fled the conflict without registering as refugees. The UNHCR said this is "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era" and noted the situation is worsening. The United Nations has condemned the capture of 43 peacekeepers in the Golan Heights and called for their immediate release. Militants seized the Fijian peacekeepers from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) during clashes with the Syrian army on Thursday near the Quneitra crossing. A further 81 peacekeepers from the Philippines are trapped in their positions around Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said the United States does not have a strategy yet to combat Islamic State militants and that there is no immediate plan to escalate military operations, including potential airstrikes in Syria.

Headlines  

Libya's interim government has resigned to the elected parliament, meanwhile, Libya Dawn, a coalition of Islamist militias that has seized control of Tripoli, said it would accept a United Nations call for a cease-fire. Turkey's new prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, announced a cabinet Friday, with economic, finance, and energy ministers keeping their posts. Israeli police have found the body of U.S. student Aaron Sofer, who went missing while hiking in the Jerusalem forest, and said they did not suspect a criminal motive. Iran has confirmed a U.S. Coast Guard vessel fired into the air at an Iranian fishing boat Tuesday, but insisted there were no clashes.

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, stated over 3 million people who have fled the conflict in Syria will have registered as refugees in neighboring countries as of Friday. Another 6.5 million people have become internally displace, so that about half of the Syrian population has been forced to leave their homes since fighting broke out in March 2011. The United Nations estimates that hundreds of thousands of people have additionally fled the conflict without registering as refugees. The UNHCR said this is "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era" and noted the situation is worsening. The United Nations has condemned the capture of 43 peacekeepers in the Golan Heights and called for their immediate release. Militants seized the Fijian peacekeepers from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) during clashes with the Syrian army on Thursday near the Quneitra crossing. A further 81 peacekeepers from the Philippines are trapped in their positions around Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said the United States does not have a strategy yet to combat Islamic State militants and that there is no immediate plan to escalate military operations, including potential airstrikes in Syria.

Headlines  

  • Libya’s interim government has resigned to the elected parliament, meanwhile, Libya Dawn, a coalition of Islamist militias that has seized control of Tripoli, said it would accept a United Nations call for a cease-fire.
  • Turkey’s new prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, announced a cabinet Friday, with economic, finance, and energy ministers keeping their posts.
  • Israeli police have found the body of U.S. student Aaron Sofer, who went missing while hiking in the Jerusalem forest, and said they did not suspect a criminal motive.
  • Iran has confirmed a U.S. Coast Guard vessel fired into the air at an Iranian fishing boat Tuesday, but insisted there were no clashes.

Arguments and Analysis

American Cannot Defeat ISIS by Aligning with Dictators Because the Two Exist in Symbiosis‘ (Rula Jebreal, The Huffington Post)

"The old Arabic proverb ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ appears to have just arrived in the U.S. Serious American analysts have been promoting Egyptian President el-Sisi as a ‘moderate’ leader who can defeat the threat to the region posed by ISIS. These same analysts are also seriously proposing cooperation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has fueled the growth of ISIS in Syria and emboldened it in Iraq.

If the U.S. decides to partner with Assad to defeat ISIS, they will be embracing a policy that legitimizes a war criminal who gassed his own people, and — so far — is theprimary culprit in a conflict that has killed some 200,000 Syrians. Clearly, Assad has seen the opportunity to exploit the ISIS threat as his latest means to cling ruthlessly to power."

It’s Time for the Saudis to Stand Up‘ (Karen Elliott House, The Wall Street Journal)

"Saudi Arabia is the wealthiest country in the region. It has by far the largest air force, equipped with hundreds of U.S. and British advanced fighter aircraft. With its oil reserves and stature as the birthplace of Islam, the kingdom is an inevitable target for the rolling brigades of ISIS.

Moreover, the Saudis have ample reason not to want to be seen again as wards of the West, a fragile society requiring military protection from America which, under the Obama administration, may well not provide it. So why aren’t well-trained Saudi pilots flying bombing runs over Mosul or against ISIS command and control centers in Syria? The problem is a failure of will even in pursuit of their own interests.

The House of Saud, which has ruled the kingdom off and on for more than 270 years, historically has survived by ducking and weaving, by seeking to avoid confrontations while trying to satisfy everyone. As a result the kingdom has been reliant on others-essentially the U.S.-for its security."

Are Turkey’s top judges "assassins"‘ (Orhan Kemal Cengiz, Al Monitor)

"Erdogan, infuriated by a decision of the High Court of Appeals, branded the judges ‘assassins,’ referring to the Ismaili order that branched off from Shiism in the 11th century and became notorious for its political assassinations.

Erdogan typically uses this term to vilify members of the Gulen movement, his former ally. Tensions between Erdogan and the Gulenists erupted into a fierce war on Dec. 17, 2013, when police and prosecutors targeted Erdogan’s ministers and cronies in a large-scale corruption probe. Erdogan claimed that Gulenists entrenched in the police and judiciary were plotting to unseat his government – a theory he continues to propagate while never addressing the fraud allegations. For Erdogan, the Gulen movement’s sympathizers in the bureaucracy form a ‘parallel state.’ As a result of the massive purge Erdogan instigated against the ‘parallel state’ over the corruption probe, hundreds of judges and prosecutors and thousands of police officers were reshuffled, with some landing behind bars on charges of illegal wiretapping and espionage.

By describing the judges of the High Court of Appeals as ‘assassins,’ Erdogan is demonstrating how the ‘parallel state’ narrative has become a catch-all weapon to smear critics and those with potential clout to limit his power."

— 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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