The charity Islamic Relief Worldwide said it will resume its operations in the Palestinian territories after an audit found no evidence of links to terrorism.
- By Mary Casey-Baker<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>
The charity Islamic Relief Worldwide said it will resume its operations in the Palestinian territories after an audit found no evidence of links to terrorism. The organization is Britain’s largest Islamic charity, operating in 44 countries around the world. Israel accused Islamic Relief of using its donations to fund Hamas and banned the charity in the West Bank. In November, the United Arab Emirates put Islamic Relief on its terror watch list, along with 85 other groups including the Islamic State, the Muslim Brotherhood, and humanitarian organizations. Islamic Relief commissioned an audit by a leading firm, which it did not name, screening the group’s 2,500 employees as well as donors and aid recipients. While it found some procedural and accounting errors, and one employee was discovered to have a “problem” because he worked at the Islamic University of Gaza, there was no evidence that funds had been directed to Hamas or any other group.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported an Islamic State suicide bomber blew up a tank on the outskirts of a Syrian air base Friday in one of the government’s last remaining strongholds in the eastern Deir al-Zour province. Meanwhile, a tribal figure said Islamic State militants had retaken 15 villages in Iraq’s Anbar province. Provincial officials in Nineveh province have been working to turn former police into a local force to battle Islamic State militants, however their efforts have been blocked by the Baghdad government.
- Facing an economic crisis, Iraq is seeking to delay a final reparations payment of $4.6 billion to Kuwait for damages during its 1990-91 occupation.
- Palestinian officials will meet Friday and Saturday to discuss suspending security cooperation with Israel following the death of Cabinet Minister Ziad Abu Ein.
- EU officials have reported a new round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers will begin on Dec. 17 in Geneva.
- In a rare move, Iran’s parliament has passed a resolution that, if it becomes law, would tax organizations overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the armed forces.
- Greek authorities are investigating a shooting attack on the Israeli Embassy in Athens that caused minor damage.
Arguments and Analysis
‘Isis: the inside story’ (Martin Chulov, The Guardian)
“The jihadist, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed, entered Camp Bucca as a young man a decade ago, and is now a senior official within Islamic State (Isis) – having risen through its ranks with many of the men who served time alongside him in prison. Like him, the other detainees had been snatched by US soldiers from Iraq’s towns and cities and flown to a place that had already become infamous: a foreboding desert fortress that would shape the legacy of the US presence in Iraq.”
‘The Origins of Turkey’s Buffer Zone in Syria‘ (Aaron Stein, War on the Rocks)
“Rumors are everywhere about some sort of a buffer zone inside Syria along its border with Turkey. The notion of a buffer zone has a deep history rooted in Turkey’s shifting foreign policy towards Syria – from close partner to intractable enemy. In order for policymakers and observers to weigh the likelihood of a buffer zone or ‘air exclusion zone’ to succeed, this history must be understood from Turkey’s perspective.
After being elected in 2002, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) prioritized Ankara’s relationship with Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad. The AKP’s approach to Syria has been defined by the work of Ahmet Davutoğlu – Turkey’s former foreign minister and current prime minister. The former academician was eager to use Turkey’s unique geography to expand Turkish influence in the Middle East. Syria, Davutoğlu argued in his book Strategic Depth, was historically connected to Anatolia, with Aleppo being a part of Ankara’s ‘natural hinterland’ because of its historic links to the Anatolian towns of Kahramanmaras, Gaziantep, and Urfa. These areas once made up the Ottoman Empire’s Aleppo vilayet.”
‘Libya’s Southern Rivalries’ (Rebecca Murray, Sada)
“Gaddafi governed with divide and rule tactics, pitting local tribes against each other, like the powerful Arab Awlad Suleiman clan in Sebha, the largest city in Fezzan province, against the Tebu. During the 2011 revolution, the Tebu cast their lot with the rebellion and formed a fighting force along the length of the southern border, while the other indigenous and semi-nomadic desert tribe, the Tuareg, allied themselves with Gaddafi, who promised them civil rights in return. Despite fighting on opposing sides, the Tuareg and Tebu never turned their weapons on each other. And in 2012, during Libya’s post-revolutionary national elections, both communities, living side-by-side in Sebha’s impoverished Tuyuri neighborhood, were exuberant in casting votes for future power in a new Libya. But soon after the revolution, turf wars broke out over the lucrative border trade between Arab tribes and the Tebu in Sebha, killing more than 150 people in March 2012, and another 150 in January 2014.”
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