- By David KennerDavid Kenner is the Middle East editor at Foreign Policy. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and has been with FP since 2009 (a long time, he knows). He worked for FP previously in Cairo, where he covered the early days of the Arab Spring, and before that in Washington. He has attended Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut and has reported from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
Iraqi officials criticized the United States for not moving quicker to drive back the Islamic State, declaring that they would press forward in the fight with or without American help. The rift has emerged amidst an Iraqi offensive in the Islamic-State held city of Tikrit, in which Baghdad has relied heavily on Shiite militias. U.S. officials seemingly fear a potential backlash from such forces entering a predominantly Sunni area, and have not dispatched U.S. warplanes to strike Islamic State positions there.
No breakthrough has yet been reported as the offensive enters its third day, as Iraqi forces are still struggling to enter the city. U.S. officials said that Iraqi forces are supported by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is operating artillery, rocket launchers, and surveillance drones in the area. Such support has made the United States leery of intervening, but Iraqi officials said they will continue the fight on their own terms. “The Americans continue procrastinating,” an aide to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told the New York Times. “Iraq will liberate Mosul and Anbar without them.”
Iranians and Israelis react to Netanyahu’s speech
In Tehran, both officials and the general public watched Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress yesterday for signs that the alliance between the United States and Israel was fracturing. Iranian media suggested that Netanyahu had found himself isolated in Washington, as the White House moves closer to a deal over Iran’s nuclear program. In Israel, meanwhile, the speech was generally praised, with commentators suggesting that it could help the prime minister in the upcoming parliamentary election.
- Jabhat al-Nusra is considering cutting its ties to al Qaeda with the encouragement of Qatar, which has promised to fund the organization if it does so.
- A former British marine was killed fighting with Kurdish forces in Syria against the Islamic State.
- The father of Mohammed Emzawi said there was no evidence that his son was the Islamic State executioner known as “Jihadi John.”
- Islamic State supporters on social media launched a campaign threatening top Twitter executives.
- Defense Secretary Ashton Carter criticized a U.S. military official for briefing reports on an upcoming offensive in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images