Report

Turkey Shifts to ‘Active Defense’ against Islamic State

Under mounting pressure after the suicide bombing in Suruc, Turkey has begun airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and arrested hundreds of people believed to be associated with the organization. For the past year, Turkey has been reticent to engage in the international campaign against the Islamic State because of skepticism of the U.S. ...

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Under mounting pressure after the suicide bombing in Suruc, Turkey has begun airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and arrested hundreds of people believed to be associated with the organization. For the past year, Turkey has been reticent to engage in the international campaign against the Islamic State because of skepticism of the U.S. strategy and a fear of reprisal terrorist attacks. But yesterday, Turkey reversed its decision and said it would allow U.S. bombers to operate from Incirlik air base and conducted airstrikes of its own on three Islamic State targets. Gen. John Allen, the U.S. coordinator for the counter-Islamic State coalition, said Turkey dropped its previous demand for implementing a no-fly zone in exchange for operating from Incirlik, but at least one Turkish report says a no-fly zone is part of the plan.

Turkish and Islamic State forces also engaged in a border clash at Kilis yesterday, killing two Islamic State fighters and one Turkish soldier. The fighting erupted when Turkey prevented fighters from using a known smuggling route. The move may signal a crackdown on Islamic State operations in Turkey. On Friday morning, Turkish authorities made more than 250 arrests of suspected Islamic State and Kurdish militants across the country. A Turkish official told Reuters that the airstrikes and arrests were “preventive measures against a possible attack against Turkey from within or from outside…There has been a move to active defense from passive defense.”

Yemen’s Saleh in Talks with Houthi Adversaries

After the Houthi movement’s losses in Aden, Yemen, its coalition may be fracturing. The Houthis’ primary ally, ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, is reportedly in talks in Cairo with the United Arab Emirates, Britain, and the United States, though the British ambassador to Yemen downplayed the significance of the meetings.

Headlines

  • The Syrian government was able to bypass inspectors’ limited mandate and retain elements of its chemical weapons program, according to inspectors.

 

  • The United States announced that the first tranche of newly trained Iraqi soldiers, approximately 3,000 troops, have been deployed to assist in operations against the Islamic State in Anbar province.

 

  • The Iranian government announced a plan to revitalize its industrial sector and trade relations, including $150 billion in oil and gas projects over the next five years.

 

  • Hisham al-Ashmawy, an Egyptian militant who masterminded the recent assassination of the nation’s top prosecutor, issued a new statement condemning President Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi as “the new pharaoh” and calling for the overthrow of the government.

 

  • After initial skepticism, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has endorsed the nuclear accord with Iran; “We are currently in talks with the American government regarding these details, but it (the deal) generally seems to have achieved these objectives,” he said.

Arguments and Analysis

No end in sight for Yemen conflict, despite Aden victory” (Adam Baron, European Council on Foreign Relations)

“But while Hadi was quick to claim victory in a speech made from Riyadh on the 16th July the reality on the ground is far more complicated. Victory against the Houthis in Aden and, for that matter, other parts of South Yemen — where anti-Houthi sentiment is widespread and the fighters, who hail from the far northern province of Saada, are widely seen as foreigners — is one thing. But dislodging them from the capital – let alone their strongholds in Yemen’s Zaidi Shi’a tribal north — represents a far greater challenge.”

 

Arab Armed Forces: State Makers or State Breakers?” (Robert Springborg, Middle East Institute)

“The near collapse over the past four years of both militaries and states in Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen, however, calls into question the interpretation of the military as socioeconomic modernizer and state maker. Egypt, although not facing imminent state collapse, seems also to be a case where military-led state building has failed, as suggested by the army’s direct seizure of power in 2013, thereby implicitly admitting the shortcomings of the army’s state building project that commenced with the 1952 coup. The monarchies have behaved ostensibly as the European historical model would predict, redoubling their efforts to further expand military capacities in the face of various threats. However, those efforts have not been coupled with intensified domestic extraction nor with effective state building, suggesting that these patrimonial political systems are becoming militarily top heavy and hence politically unbalanced. Arab militaries, in sum, whether in direct control or as agents of ruling monarchs, appear not to have fulfilled their promise as state builders, and four formerly military-dominated Arab states have already lost their monopoly over the legitimate use of coercion within their borders, the essential defining component of statehood. Why then has the hypothesized link between war, armed forces, and state building broken down in the Arab world and what, if any, alternative routes remain open to reinforcing or reconstructing effective Arab nation states?”

-J. Dana Stuster

TARIK TINAZAY/AFP/Getty Images

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