Report

Islamic State Seizes Ramadi while U.S. Conducts Raid in Syria

The Islamic State has taken the Iraqi city of Ramadi, it’s first major victory since the international coalition began targeting its operations in Iraq and Syria last September. The attack began on Friday when fighters disguised as police officers infiltrated the city and seized key government buildings. According to Iraqi officials, at least 500 people ...

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The Islamic State has taken the Iraqi city of Ramadi, it’s first major victory since the international coalition began targeting its operations in Iraq and Syria last September. The attack began on Friday when fighters disguised as police officers infiltrated the city and seized key government buildings. According to Iraqi officials, at least 500 people were killed and thousands have fled the city over the weekend. The United States conducted several airstrikes against Islamic State targets near Ramadi and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has approved deploying Shia militia forces to try to retake the city. In Syria, 300 people were killed in clashes between Assad regime forces and the Islamic State near the ancient city of Palmyra.

On Saturday, the United States announced that Special Forces had conducted a rare raid against a senior Islamic State figure at his residence in Amr in Syria’s oil-rich southeast. Commandos killed Abu Sayyaf, a Tunisian jihadi described as a manager of the Islamic State’s oil and gas operations, which has been a significant source of income for the organization. About a dozen other fighters were killed in the operation, and Sayyaf’s wife was taken into custody and moved to a facility in Iraq, as was a Yazidi woman being held by Sayyaf who will be reunited with her family.

Former Egyptian President Receives Death Sentence

An Egyptian court has sentenced ousted President Mohamed Morsi — along with more than 100 others — to death for escaping extralegal detention during the 2011 uprising that overthrew then-President Hosni Mubarak. Morsi was also sentenced to a 20-year prison sentence last month for inciting violence and wrongfully imprisoning protesters while in office, and faces more charges for “leaking documents, fraud and insulting the judiciary.” Egypt’s Grand Mufti has until June 2 to rule on whether the death sentence will be carried out, and it may also be appealed through the courts. The United States and European Union condemned the mass trial and a U.S. State Department spokesperson said it showed a “need for due process and individualised judicial processes for all Egyptians in the interests of justice.”

Headlines

  • Saudi airstrikes resumed targeting Houthi forces in Aden today after a five-day ceasefire despite U.N. Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed pressing for a five-day extension at a Gulf Cooperation Council conference on the conflict in Riyadh on Sunday.

 

  • Simultaneous bombings targeted the offices of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Adana and Mersin, Turkey, today; six people were injured in the attacks.

 

  • Egypt has executed six men accused of perpetrating an attack on a military checkpoint despite evidence that three of the men were already incarcerated at the time of the attack; the trial and execution has drawn criticism from human rights groups.

 

  • An Iranian ship purportedly carrying humanitarian aid and activists has entered the Gulf of Aden and is expected to try to dock at the Yemeni port city of Hodeida on May 21 in a challenge to Saudi Arabia’s blockade of the country.

 

  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended a ceremony at the Vatican to celebrate the canonization of two 19th-Century Palestinian nuns.

Arguments and Analysis

Why the U.S. Raid On Abu Sayyaf and ISIS in Eastern Syria May Be A Game Changer” (Clint Watts, Foreign Policy Research Institute)

“In well-run organizations, elimination of the top leaders may only result in a rapid succession of command with little resulting impact on the organization as a whole.  Targeting those individuals in charge of finance and command and control will disrupt how an entire organization operates; sub-elements won’t receive needed funds, junior leaders will be unsure of what to do, military operations will slow and/or become disjointed, and throughout the entire terror group doubt will creep in as communication lessens.  The effects of this strategy on terror groups can be observed retrospectively by looking at how al Qaeda was targeted through Abu Zubaydah, a key financial figure, not long after 9/11 and a targeted drone strike against Atiyah Abd al Rahman, al Qaeda’s key communications interlocutor.”

 

Court recommends death sentences for Morsi, more than 100 others, in ‘charade trials’” (Amnesty International)

“The death penalty has become the favourite tool for the Egyptian authorities to purge the political opposition. Most of those sentenced to death by courts since July 2013 have been Morsi supporters. The deal seems to be: Support Morsi and get sentenced to death or to years behind bars. Instead, Egypt must ensure the independence and impartiality of the justice system and bring to justice all those responsible for gross human rights violations.”

-J. Dana Stuster

SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images

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