The Middle East Channel

Pentagon Investigates Video of Islamic State Militants with Weapons Bundle

The Pentagon is investigating a video that appears to show Islamic State militants in control of a bundle of arms and ammunition intended for Kurdish forces in the Syrian town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab). Pentagon officials reported one bundle, of about 28 airdropped on Monday, had fallen into the hands of the Islamic State group. ...

Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images
Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images

The Pentagon is investigating a video that appears to show Islamic State militants in control of a bundle of arms and ammunition intended for Kurdish forces in the Syrian town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab). Pentagon officials reported one bundle, of about 28 airdropped on Monday, had fallen into the hands of the Islamic State group. However, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said experts are examining the video to assess its validity and determine whether the missing bundle was the one depicted in the video, or if the militants have taken possession of a second bundle. Kirby added, "We are very confident that the vast majority of the bundles did end up in the right hands." The United States has made a noticeable shift in policy over Kobani, a predominantly Kurdish town near the Turkish border. While the White House insisted for weeks that Kobani wasn’t critical to the campaign against the Islamic State group, a U.S. official noted because "Kobani was the next place Islamic State wanted to plant its flag" the town became too symbolically important to lose.

Iraq

U.S. officials said they would consider deploying additional military advisors to assist Iraqi security forces in countering Islamic State militants. The issue was reportedly discussed between U.S. and Iraqi officials during meetings in Iraq last week, however no official request from the Iraqi government had been made. The United States has about 1,400 advisors and diplomatic security personnel in Iraq. In Anbar, where Islamic State fighters have made recent advances surrounding the province’s largest airbase, the Haditha Dam, and several towns, Sunni tribal fighters are claiming support from the U.S. military and Iraqi government is insufficient. Meanwhile, U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonic said that the Islamic State assault against Iraq’s Yazidi minority "may amount to attempted genocide."

Headlines

  • U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is setting up an inquiry into the recent Gaza conflict investigating attacks on U.N. facilities and the reported use by Palestinian militants of U.N. buildings for weapons storage.
  • Omar al-Hasi, Libya’s self-declared prime minister, met with Turkey’s special envoy for Libya in the first reported diplomatic meeting for the rival Libyan government meanwhile the recognized government ordered an advance on Tripoli.
  • An Egyptian court has set an appeals hearing for January 1 for three Al Jazeera journalists sentenced to seven years in prison.
  • Couples in Iran have been throwing divorce parties highlighting a dramatic rise in divorce rates since 2006.

Arguments and Analysis

Tunisia’s Borders (II): Terrorism and Regional Polarisation‘ (International Crisis Group)

"Since the December 2010-January 2011 uprising, Tunisia has successfully overcome successive political crises, yet seems less able to absorb the impact of major jihadi attacks. As a result of the successful national dialogue, 2014 began on a note of optimism that led to a significant reduction in political tensions, but concerns are growing again. At the heart of this anxiety are an increase in violence along the Algerian border; the chaotic situation in Libya; and the advance of radical Islamism in the Middle East – all made all the more acute by an alarmist anti-terrorist discourse. An echo chamber for the conflicts agitating the region, Tunisia needs to tackle terrorism in a calm and depoliticised manner. The fights against terrorism and organised crime are inextricably linked. In addition to security measures, the government should take new economic and social initiatives that would ensure border communities trust and support the state."

A Nuclear Deal, Now or Never‘ (Vali R. Nasr, The New York Times)

"Put that calendar together, and a strategy for America is clear. While the United States and its allies must achieve their core goals – effectively and dependably blocking Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb – in any compromises they make, they need to remember, too, that getting a deal itself could be a game-changer in Iranian politics. The bet they should be making is on offering one while they still can; their counterparts are, after all, Iranian politicians whose interests lie in both achieving a nuclear deal and opening up their country. If the talks don’t bear fruit soon, our narrow window of opportunity will shut, and the West will most likely have to contend with a far more recalcitrant Iran in an unstable Middle East."

Mary Casey

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