Report

Jordanian Jets Strike Islamic State Positions

Two days after the Islamic State released a gruesome video showing the murder of Jordanian Air Force Pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh, Jordanian forces have increased their attacks against the jihadi targets. “The plan … is to go after (ISIS) targets in order to degrade them and defeat them,” said Mohammed al-Momani, a Jordanian government spokesperson. “We ...

BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 29:  King Abdullah II of Jordanspeaks to the media following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery on November 29, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. The two leaders discussed, among other topics, the current situation in Syria.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 29: King Abdullah II of Jordanspeaks to the media following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery on November 29, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. The two leaders discussed, among other topics, the current situation in Syria. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Two days after the Islamic State released a gruesome video showing the murder of Jordanian Air Force Pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh, Jordanian forces have increased their attacks against the jihadi targets. “The plan … is to go after (ISIS) targets in order to degrade them and defeat them,” said Mohammed al-Momani, a Jordanian government spokesperson. “We want to make sure that they will pay for the crime they did and the atrocity they did to our pilot.” The exact locations of the airstrikes have not been released but the majority took place in eastern Syria, the Islamic State’s stronghold. Next steps in Jordan’s campaign are unclear. King Abdullah has vowed for a “relentless” war against the Islamic State and said “we will hit them in their own ground.” Some have speculated that Jordan could even send ground troops into Syria to fight jihadists there. King Abdullah returned early from a visit to the United States after the video of Kassasbeh’s murder was released. Some reports in Jordanian social media suggested that King Abdullah, a trained pilot and former member of the country’s military, would personally participate in the anti-Islamic State airstrikes. He will not.

Syria and Iraq

A rebel attack on Damascus left at least 21 people dead, while government forces responded with airstrikes on rebel-held territory. The rebel bombing came just two days after the rebel group Jaish al-Islam promised heavy mortar fire on Damascus. The group’s leader said he considered the Syrian capital “a military zone” and vowed to continue “until the capital is cleansed.”

In Baghdad, the government announced that a curfew that has been in place in some form since the 2003 U.S. invasion would finally come to an end on Saturday. Four Baghdad neighborhoods will be “demilitarized,” according to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Today “Baghdad is secure enough … to lift the night-time curfew,” a spokesman for Abadi said.

Headlines

Peter Greste, an Al Jazeera International journalist imprisoned in Egypt for over a year, has returned to his home in Australia.

Newly released claims by Zacarias Moussaoui, a former member of al Qaeda, that Saudi Arabia had high-level contact with terrorist groups before Sept. 11, 2001 have raised a variety of questions about the American allies’ connections to terrorism.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is trying to get Iranians to pay their taxes amid an ongoing loss of oil revenue.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said that one of its leading members was killed in a U.S. strike in southern Yemen on Jan 31.

Arguments and Analysis

Guess Who’s Bombing ISIS? (Micah Zenko, Council on Foreign Relations)

To be completely clear, the UAE is demanding that the United States place its troops at greater risk of being killed—in order to reduce the risks to its own pilots—before it will recommence airstrikes against ISIS. The UAE has two fleets of its own AW109K2 and AW139 combat search-and-rescue helicopters that it could station in Irbil, most likely, with Iraq’s permission. These are less capable than V-22s, but they could be used by the UAE if it wanted to immediately assure the safety of its pilots. Understandably, it would rather pass the risk on to U.S. troops and V-22 pilots.

Jordan’s Executions Are Not The Answer to ISIS Brutality (Eric Goldstein, Human Rights Watch)

The executions of al-Karbouli and al-Rishawi were carried out following trials that included an appeals process. But to dispatch them from death row to the gallows immediately following news of al-Kasasbeh’s murder, to which they had no connection, amidst official vows to avenge his death, shows that revenge was a motive in ending their lives. Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment under all circumstances, as a practice unique in its cruelty and finality. But to execute death row inmates in response to external events alarmingly suggests that retaliation against third parties is driving policy, rather than justice based solely on fairness and individualized guilt.

 Twitter: @maxstrasser

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