The Middle East Channel

Suicide Bomber Hits Iraqi Kurdish Capital

A suicide car bomber killed an estimated five people and wounded up to 22 others in Erbil around midday Wednesday, in the first major attack in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan in over a year. The attack reportedly struck outside the main entrance of the governorate complex in the city’s center. Kurdish forces and Iraqi ...

STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images

A suicide car bomber killed an estimated five people and wounded up to 22 others in Erbil around midday Wednesday, in the first major attack in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan in over a year. The attack reportedly struck outside the main entrance of the governorate complex in the city's center. Kurdish forces and Iraqi government forces have been fighting to push back an Islamic State advance in Iraq, however Erbil has been largely insulated from the violence. On Wednesday, Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, said Western countries have not provided the heavy weapons and artillery Kurdish forces need to deliver a "decisive blow" against Islamic State militants.

Syria

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the Syrian military conducted airstrikes on the Qabr al-Inglizi area in the northern province of Aleppo Tuesday killing at least 14 people and wounding 20 others. The Observatory said at least one barrel bomb was dropped during the strikes. Meanwhile, the Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees said they believed U.S.-led forces carried out an airstrike overnight on the Idlib province town of Harem, which is controlled by al-Nusra Front. The strike has not been confirmed, however U.S. aircraft hit Nusra Front militants near the town last week.

A suicide car bomber killed an estimated five people and wounded up to 22 others in Erbil around midday Wednesday, in the first major attack in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan in over a year. The attack reportedly struck outside the main entrance of the governorate complex in the city’s center. Kurdish forces and Iraqi government forces have been fighting to push back an Islamic State advance in Iraq, however Erbil has been largely insulated from the violence. On Wednesday, Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, said Western countries have not provided the heavy weapons and artillery Kurdish forces need to deliver a "decisive blow" against Islamic State militants.

Syria

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the Syrian military conducted airstrikes on the Qabr al-Inglizi area in the northern province of Aleppo Tuesday killing at least 14 people and wounding 20 others. The Observatory said at least one barrel bomb was dropped during the strikes. Meanwhile, the Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees said they believed U.S.-led forces carried out an airstrike overnight on the Idlib province town of Harem, which is controlled by al-Nusra Front. The strike has not been confirmed, however U.S. aircraft hit Nusra Front militants near the town last week.

Headlines

  • Israeli forces destroyed the East Jerusalem home of a Palestinian who drove his car into a Jerusalem light rail stop killing two people, after Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged to speed up home demolitions of attackers.
  • Clashes between the Egyptian army and militants killed ten people overnight in the Sinai Peninsula near the border with Gaza.
  • An Israeli police officer died from wounds sustained in an attack by two Palestinian men on a West Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday that also killed four rabbis.

Arguments and Analysis

Sectarianism comes back to bite Saudi Arabia‘ (Toby Matthiesen, The Washington Post)

"within a few weeks, a key Saudi Shiite cleric has been sentenced to death in an unfair trial and a group of Sunni militants were able to kill Shiites in a house of worship on the eve of Ashura. It is hard to see how Shiite Muslims should feel safe and accepted in a state where anti-Shiism is perpetuated in schooling and public discourse and such atrocities are allowed to happen. The recent killings have confirmed the truism that Gulf Arab support for sectarian hate speech and militias abroad would one day backfire, and they have set a worrying precedent. Parts of the Saudi ruling family may finally feel that their long-standing association with the Wahhabi religious establishment and radical anti-Shiite groups in the region may have been a strategic mistake. But these ties are ties that bind, and they are difficult to undo. After decades of using anti-Shiism as a strategic tool at home and abroad it will be virtually impossible to backtrack without alienating the core constituencies of the Saudi regime. And so the contradictions within the Saudi political system, and the regional sectarian war, are likely to get worse rather than better in the foreseeable future."

Season of Monsters: Surviving the horrors of a war-torn Syria‘ (Lina Sergie Attar, Politico)

"Cynicism is the new fundamentalism of our age. The hypocrisy of the last three years has silenced many of my Syrian friends. We no longer ask why all Syrians don’t deserve to be protected-not just their cultural heritage and not only the minorities? Why are the international ‘right to protect’ laws not used to protect people but rather political interests? Why do places like Kobani and Kassab capture the world’s outrage, measured in trending hashtags, while places like Homs and Aleppo are ignored? Why has the world ignored massacres in Daraa and Daraya; and Hama in 1982; and Qamishli in 2004 when the Assad regime killed over 30 Kurds and displaced thousands to refugee camps in the Kurdistan region of Iraq?"

Hezbollah in a Time of Transition‘ (Daniel L. Byman and Bilal Y. Saab, The Brookings Institution)

"Regional tremors always shake Lebanon exceptionally hard, and the latest cataclysms are no exception. The arc of crisis stretching from Libya to Iraq is especially pronounced for the Lebanese Hezbollah, the country’s most powerful, and most complex, actor. Hezbollah’s position in Lebanon has long rested on several pillars: its opposition to Israel and the military prowess it has demonstrated; its ties to foreign sponsors, Iran and Syria; and its strong political and social position within Lebanon itself. This resulting mix of power, money, and performance has enabled Hezbollah to work with communities outside its Shi’ite base, become the dominant group in Lebanon, and establish itself as an important regional player.

All these are now in flux. The Syrian conflict is transforming Hezbollah. A movement that long claimed to transcend sectarianism is now the longest pole in the Syrian regime’s tent, and has become a bogeyman to the region’s Sunni community. At the same time, Hezbollah’s deep involvement in the Syrian civil war has damaged its position in Lebanon and even led to questions within its Shi’ite base. The conflict with Israel, while still a focus of rhetoric, has faded to the background."

Mary Casey-Baker

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