The Middle East Channel

France Launches Its First Strikes Against Islamic State Militants

French jets have launched their first strikes in northern Iraq against Islamic State militants. According to a statement from French President François Hollande, planes hit and destroyed an Islamic State depot, and more raids will be carried out in the coming days. On Thursday Hollande announced he had agreed to Iraq’s requests for air support, ...

FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

French jets have launched their first strikes in northern Iraq against Islamic State militants. According to a statement from French President François Hollande, planes hit and destroyed an Islamic State depot, and more raids will be carried out in the coming days. On Thursday Hollande announced he had agreed to Iraq’s requests for air support, and that France would join the U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State militants. However, he stressed that the operations would not include ground forces, and that strikes would not extend into Syria. Also on Thursday, the U.S. Senate approved President Obama’s plan to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels, a day after the measure was passed in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, Islamic State militants have posted a video of British journalist John Cantlie delivering a propaganda message.

Syria

In less than 24 hours, Islamic State militants seized 21 Kurdish villages and besieged the Kurdish city of Kobani (or Ayn al-Arab) in northern Syria. Hundreds of Kurds have fled and gathered at the Turkish border, though security forces are not allowing them to enter. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) released a statement calling for Turkish Kurds to join the fight against Islamic State militants and defend Kobani.

Headlines

  • Houthi fighters have advanced into Yemen’s capital, and shelled the state television building, prompting international airlines to suspend flights to Sanaa.
  • Six Iranians who recorded a video of themselves dancing to the song "Happy" have been sentenced to six months in prison and 91 lashes, though the sentences have been suspended.
  • Car bombings targeting Shiite markets and a mosque Friday in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad have killed an estimated 17 people and wounded dozens of others.
  • An explosion, either from a roadside bomb or rocket fire, killed two Lebanese soldiers Friday outside the town of Arsal, near the Syrian border.

Arguments and Analysis

Justice in Transition in Yemen‘ (Erica Gaston with Nadwa al-Dawsari, Peaceworks)

"These steps toward top-level reform have been necessary but so far largely rhetorical or superficial. Deeper justice reform has stalled, many argue because of a lack of political will or capacity to tackle justice reform at a time of such political uncertainty and state frailty. Meanwhile, anecdotal accounts from the average Yemeni suggest that the performance of justice institutions and rule of law more generally have worsened significantly over the transition period. The deterioration of security and the weaker state apparatus have exacerbated long-standing weaknesses in the judiciary."

To Confront the Islamic State, Seek a Truce in Syria‘ (Yezid Sayigh, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

"As a core coalition led by the United States gears up to confront the militant Islamic State with action in Iraq, there is a rare opportunity to engineer a truce in Syria. Both the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the more moderate armed rebels arrayed against it are stretched thin, bleeding badly, and in an increasingly vulnerable position. They remain as far as ever from negotiating a political solution to the conflict, but the timing is opportune. Each has self-serving reasons to suspend military operations to confront the looming jihadist threat from the east."

The New Iraqi Prime Minister: A Change in Style or Substance?‘ (Reidar Visser, Middle East Institute)

"The management of the security file and the appointment of security ministers will perhaps be the most important harbinger about the direction taken by Iraq’s new prime minister. There has been a debate as to whether Abbadi is allowing Maliki to continue as a strongman in his own shadow, preparing yet another term Putin-style. So far, though, Abbadi’s language has been pointed enough-and with sufficient implicit criticism of Maliki’s past practices-that this theory cannot be given too much weight. However, Abbadi will soon have to move beyond politically correct rhetoric to implement actual policy initiatives that can transform the lives of millions of Iraqis to more peaceful and prosperous conditions than they currently experience."

— Mary Casey

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