The Middle East Channel

Gunmen Kill Five People in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province

Masked gunmen killed five people and wounded nine others in the town of Dalwah in Saudi Arabia’s predominantly Shiite Eastern Province. The gunmen reportedly opened fire late Monday as Shiite worships left a celebration marking the festival of Ashura, commemorating the death of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Imam Hussein. Saudi police have arrested six men ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Masked gunmen killed five people and wounded nine others in the town of Dalwah in Saudi Arabia's predominantly Shiite Eastern Province. The gunmen reportedly opened fire late Monday as Shiite worships left a celebration marking the festival of Ashura, commemorating the death of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Imam Hussein. Saudi police have arrested six men on terror charges in connection with the attack. Saudi Arabia's minority Shiite community complains of marginalization and discrimination by the majority Sunni government. Tensions have risen in the Eastern Province since leading Shiite cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was sentenced to death for sedition in October.

Syria

Iraqi Peshmerga fighters and Free Syrian Army rebels are striking Islamic State positions in the Syrian town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab), near the Turkish border. As Kurdish forces have battled the Islamic State militants, U.S.-led airstrikes have helped to slow their advance, but have not managed to push the Islamic State fighters out of Kobani. Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that Islamic State militants tortured and abused children after abducting more than 150 Kurdish boys from Kobani in May. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the Islamic State released 93 Syrian Kurds the group captured in February, though it is unclear why the Kurds had been freed.

Masked gunmen killed five people and wounded nine others in the town of Dalwah in Saudi Arabia’s predominantly Shiite Eastern Province. The gunmen reportedly opened fire late Monday as Shiite worships left a celebration marking the festival of Ashura, commemorating the death of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Imam Hussein. Saudi police have arrested six men on terror charges in connection with the attack. Saudi Arabia’s minority Shiite community complains of marginalization and discrimination by the majority Sunni government. Tensions have risen in the Eastern Province since leading Shiite cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was sentenced to death for sedition in October.

Syria

Iraqi Peshmerga fighters and Free Syrian Army rebels are striking Islamic State positions in the Syrian town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab), near the Turkish border. As Kurdish forces have battled the Islamic State militants, U.S.-led airstrikes have helped to slow their advance, but have not managed to push the Islamic State fighters out of Kobani. Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that Islamic State militants tortured and abused children after abducting more than 150 Kurdish boys from Kobani in May. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the Islamic State released 93 Syrian Kurds the group captured in February, though it is unclear why the Kurds had been freed.

Headlines

  • A navy ship was hit and 13 people were killed during clashes on Monday in the Libyan city of Benghazi meanwhile fighting has erupted between the Tebu and Tuareg communities in the south.
  • Israel’s parliament has passed a law that would limit the release of Palestinian prisoners who have been convicted of killing Israelis as part of peace negotiations.
  • A British-Iranian woman sentenced by an Iranian court to a year in prison after trying to watch a men’s volleyball match is on hunger strike protesting her detention.
  • Israel has advanced plans for the construction of 500 settler homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, in a move criticized by the United States.

Arguments and Analysis

What Would the Turkish Buffer Zone Mean for Syria’s Displaced?‘ (Matthew Hall with Elizabeth Ferris, Atlantic Council)

"Since 2012, the government of Turkey has advocated for the creation of an internationally sanctioned buffer zone-sometimes called a safe zone-a militarized ribbon running the length of the Turkish/Syrian border, protecting a dozen or so Syrian population centers.

The argument for a buffer zone is demonstrated most clearly in Kobani, where evacuated residents camp on Turkish hilltops overlooking their abandoned homes. If the Turkish military could push several miles into Syrian territory, the thinking goes, then Kobanis could stay put in their homes (and go to school, and tend to their shops, and till their fields) rather than huddle in UNHCR tents. And Turkey, which already hosts upwards of one million registered refugees, could relieve itself of the complex burden of hosting displaced Syrians.

On its face, the idea has a certain appeal, but there are concerns as well. (Beyond humanitarian concerns, the buffer zone likely has politico-military functions: the cleared zone could be used as an area to train forces opposed to Assad, and the incursion would create the pretense for the Turkish military to destroy PKK installations.)"

That joke isn’t funny anymore: Cairo’s snarky cartoonists get the message‘ (Louisa Loveluck, The Christian Science Monitor)

"Yet his trenchant image stood out for its rarity. After three years of revolutionary tumult, and the fall of two presidents, Egypt’s subversive cartoonists are mostly taking another tack. Gone are the irreverent depictions of the leader of the day. And dissenting media outlets, particularly those linked to Mr. Sisi’s Islamist predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, have been forcibly closed, or have ceased publication of their own accord, wary of voicing criticism of Egypt’s popular new leader.

‘There are periods in history that are not suitable for serious criticism,’ says Douaa el Adel, another cartoonist at Al-Masry Al-Youm. ‘You can criticize, but you must not bring down the system – these people who chant against the military regime don’t understand that the only option is the Muslim Brotherhood.’" 

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

More from Foreign Policy

The Pentagon is seen from the air over Washington, D.C., on Aug. 25, 2013.

The Pentagon’s Office Culture Is Stuck in 1968

The U.S. national security bureaucracy needs a severe upgrade.

The Azerbaijani army patrols the streets of Shusha on Sept. 25 under a sign that reads: "Dear Shusha, you are free. Dear Shusha, we are back. Dear Shusha, we will resurrect you. Shusha is ours."

From the Ruins of War, a Tourist Resort Emerges

Shusha was the key to the recent war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Now Baku wants to turn the fabled fortress town into a resort.

Frances Pugh in 2019's Midsommar.

Scandinavia’s Horror Renaissance and the Global Appeal of ‘Fakelore’

“Midsommar” and “The Ritual” are steeped in Scandinavian folklore. Or are they?