Report

Peace Talks to Begin This Weekend as Violence Continues in Yemen

The parties to Yemen’s civil war will begin peace talks in Geneva on Sunday. With the negotiations two days away, the United Nations has provided additional details. “The talks will start as proximity talks, which means the envoy will be shuttling between the two groups in the hope that he can bring them together during ...

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The parties to Yemen’s civil war will begin peace talks in Geneva on Sunday. With the negotiations two days away, the United Nations has provided additional details. “The talks will start as proximity talks, which means the envoy will be shuttling between the two groups in the hope that he can bring them together during these consultations,” U.N. spokesman Ahmed Fawzi told reporters in Geneva. “The Special Envoy hopes, and the Secretary-General hopes, that the Geneva consultation on Yemen will create a new dynamic that will build confidence between the Yemeni actors and yield concrete benefits for the population, especially reduced violence and increased access to humanitarian aid and basic services.”

Violence in Yemen has continued unabated despite the upcoming talks. This morning, a Saudi airstrike hit Sanaa’s old city neighborhood, destroying three houses in a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Yemen’s humanitarian crisis has also continued to worsen. At least 20 million people in Yemen — a staggering 80 percent of the country — are in need of some sort of humanitarian aid, according to UNICEF’s latest report.

Jabhat al-Nusra Massacres Druze Despite Promise to Protect Minorities

At least 20 Druze Syrians were killed by the Jabhat al-Nusra in an attack in Qalb Lawzah in Idlib province on Wednesday. Nusra fighters had reportedly been pressuring Druze residents in the town to convert to Salafism. The murders have Druze leaders questioning their tenuous detente with Nusra. Leaders and supporters of Jabhat al-Nusra have been on a public relations blitz recently, trying to convince people that it is not as radical as the Islamic State and that it will protect minority rights.

Headlines

  • U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey said the United States is considering new operations at several more Iraqi bases, allowing “lily pads” for partner forces near the front lines of the fight against the Islamic State.

 

  • A new wave of thousands of refugees is flooding the Turkish-Syrian border, displaced by a U.S.-supported Kurdish offensive in northeastern Syria.

 

  • The Israeli military announced it would press charges against soldiers who looted several hundred dollars worth from a destroyed home during the 2014 Gaza war, but said investigations found nothing illegal about several controversial attacks that resulted in civilian deaths.

 

  • The Saudi government has postponed the lashing of Raif Badawi, who is serving a 10 year and 1,000 lash sentence for writing blog posts critical of the government; the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement denouncing criticisms by foreign governments and rights groups as “interference.”

 

  • The Gulf Cooperation Council has issued a joint statement in defense of Qatar, which is under pressure for using corrupt practices and committing human rights abuses to host and prepare for the 2022 World Cup.

Arguments and Analysis

Egypt won’t declare Hamas a terror group. What does that mean?” (Zack Gold, Haaretz)

“Egypt has a strong interest in calling Hamas a terrorist organization. It fits Cairo’s narrative about the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam, provides a foreign enemy on which to focus, and helps explain why the military is struggling to defeat Sinai militancy. For all of Cairo’s rhetoric against Hamas, though, placing it on Egypt’s list of terrorist organizations went too far.”

 

What the HDP Success Means for Turkey” (Burcu Ozcelik, Sada)

“The [People’s Democratic Party] HDP has been handed a mandate to represent a medley of ideologically diverse voters, including a mix of anti-government protesters, environmentalists, and religiously conservative Kurds. Provincial and district level election results suggest that this latter group constitutes the lion’s share of the HDP’s new voters. But elements of the Kurdish vote, both within the conservative bloc and among nationalists, may grow uneasy with HDP politicians crediting the electoral win with a leftist platform that could come at the expense of a Kurdish-first posture and identity. The HDP may struggle to accommodate identity-based demands from its stronghold in Kurdish areas while continuing to act as a party that represents a wide cross-section of voters across Turkey. But what the HDP can do with its new seats remains unclear.”

 

-J. Dana Stuster

MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

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