Report

Negotiators Optimistic as Iran Talks Continue

Despite heated talks this week that have escalated into shouting matches, negotiators in Vienna say that they are optimistic negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran could conclude soon. The White House issued a statement saying that President Obama discussed the progress of the negotiations with the U.S. team yesterday afternoon. “We’re always making ...

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Despite heated talks this week that have escalated into shouting matches, negotiators in Vienna say that they are optimistic negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran could conclude soon. The White House issued a statement saying that President Obama discussed the progress of the negotiations with the U.S. team yesterday afternoon. “We’re always making progress. We’re going to resolve the last issues — if we can,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said this morning. The head of Iran’s nuclear energy program told reporters that “Hopefully, today is the last day.”

The negotiations are inching toward a deal despite heated arguments this week. On Monday, Bloomberg reports, Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif got in an argument that could be heard through much of the hotel, and in another Zarif exclaimed at Western negotiators, “If we are talking about regional security, I should take every one of you to international courts for supporting Saddam.” The issue of the U.N. arms embargo — which relates to Iran’s development of armor-piercing depleted uranium munitions — seems to still be in dispute. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today he supported lifting the embargo “as soon as possible.”

Number of Syrian Refugees Grows Past 4 Million

The number of refugees from the Syrian civil war has surpassed 4 million people, according to new figures from the United Nations. Nearly half — 1.8 million — are sheltering in Turkey. “This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation,” U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement. An additional 7.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced by the fighting.

Headlines

  • The Tunisian government has announced plans to build a 100-mile-long wall along its border with Libya to deter transnational terrorist training and attacks.

 

  • Kurdish militias in Syria say they have retaken Ain Issa, a contested town in eastern Syria that was seized by the Islamic State on Monday.

 

  • Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davetoglu says he expects to be given the mandate to form a new coalition government later today; his Justice and Development Party received a plurality of votes in last month’s parliamentary election.

 

  • A roadside bomb struck a bus carrying policemen on leave in the Sinai Peninsula, near the city of Al-Arish, wounding at least 20 people.

 

  • The Qatari government has established a new public communications department to work on promoting Qatar’s international reputation amid criticisms of its role in financing terrorist groups and its treatment of World Cup laborers.

Arguments and Analysis

A report from an al Qaeda-controlled city in Yemen” (‘Mohamed,’ France24)

“At the start, the arrival of al Qaeda improved security in the city because thefts and looting had been on the rise since the beginning of the air strikes. The group’s members were very reassuring towards the residents. They said that they had no intention of applying Sharia law straight away, but favoured dialogue with the local population. But little by little, the group began imposing its laws. Firstly, they burned down markets where khat is sold [Editor’s note: a popular soft drug in Yemen]. They also banned sale of the drug, though they didn’t lay into users.”

 

Yet Another Terrorism Law” (Mai El-Sadany, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy)

“Thus the new counterterrorism draft law maintains the structure of the previously-governing Article 86 Penal Code definition for “terrorism,” while (1) expanding the set of acts that can be prosecuted, including crimes like kidnap and social media incitement for the first time, and (2) implicating rights like freedom of the press and enshrining harsh sentences in a number of cases; by some accounts, there are 12 scenarios in which an individual can be sentenced to death. Further, the draft law sets forth a number of unprecedented procedural steps granting the prosecution and the judiciary significant powers beyond those generally authorized by the Criminal Procedure Code. Ultimately, the draft law’s maintenance of generic terminology and broad constructions leaves the door open for a simultaneous crackdown on both terrorists and non-violent opposition figures.”

-J. Dana Stuster

CARLOS BARRIA/AFP/Getty Images

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