Jabhat al-Nusra has abducted the leader of a U.S.-supported rebel group in northern Syria, along with several of his fighters. Their capture was confirmed by a statement from the group, known as Division 30, which urged their release. Nusra reportedly ambushed the Division 30 fighters as they returned from a meeting in Azaz to coordinate with other rebel groups. Many of the 54 rebels that have been trained by the United States as part of its new train-and-assist program are affiliated with Division 30.
This setback could affect planning for Turkey’s announced “safe zone” to be implemented along a stretch of the Syria-Turkey border. The zone is still in early planning stages and there is no consensus between the United States and Turkey on which rebels should maintain security in the area. “We have to sit down with the Turks and figure it out,” an Obama administration official told Reuters.
Israel Hits Targets in Syria, Lebanon
Israel is believed to have carried out two airstrikes yesterday, though it is the Israeli government’s policy not to confirm strikes publicly. In one, a drone targeted Hezbollah fighters near the Druze town of Hader, Syria. A second airstrike, carried out by a manned fighter jet, targeted the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Qusaya, Lebanon.
- Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has ordered independent anti-Houthis be incorporated into loyalist elements of the Yemeni military in an effort to unify command.
- Kuwait has arrested a cell associated with the Islamic State, including fighters who fought in Iraq and Syria.
- The United States authorized the possible sale of $5.4 billion worth of PAC-3 Patriot missiles and $500 million in new ammunition.
- The Knesset passed a controversial new law that would allow Israeli judges to authorize the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike.
- Saudi Arabia is expected to reduce its oil production by 200,000 to 300,000 barrels per day at the end of the summer in response to a decline in domestic demand; the reduction in not expected to affect exports.
Arguments and Analysis
“New Poll Shows Most Palestinians for Political Progress, Tactical Compromises with Israel” (David Pollock, Fikra Forum)
“On the other hand, there is also surprisingly widespread support for certain key compromises with Israel. At the tactical level, perhaps the most stunning statistic in this whole survey is this: 74 percent of West Bankers, and fully 83 percent of Gazans, say that ‘Hamas should maintain a ceasefire with Israel’ in both areas. Furthermore, at the strategic level, half or more of West Bankers would ‘probably’ accept compromises on two major issues. On the definition of statehood, 56 percent would agree to ‘the principle of two states for two peoples, the Palestinian people and the Jewish people,’ if that ‘might help to end the occupation.’ Similarly, 51 percent would “accept that the right of return will apply to the West Bank and Gaza but not to Israel.” Among Gazans, those figures are a bit lower, but still substantial: 43-44 percent would ‘probably’ accept both a ‘two states for two peoples’ formula and ‘right of return’ only outside Israel, if either concession were required for the sake of Palestinian independence. Altogether, the evidence is clear: today, at least, most Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza want a ceasefire and economic cooperation with Israel — and many would also compromise on certain tough core issues for the sake of ending the occupation. In this case, as in so many others, it is outside advocates and some political figures who hew to a harder line. They would do better to follow the relatively pragmatic lead of the Palestinian people themselves.”
“Reevaluating U.S. Targeting Assistance to the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen” (Samantha Andrews, Politics, Power, and Preventive Action)
“To minimize civilian casualties in Yemen, the Obama administration should consider the lessons from the Combined Intelligence Fusion Cell. Specifically, it should reevaluate its assistance to Saudi Arabia to make it contingent upon greater involvement in joint target selection and approval. Live intelligence feeds from drones should be used to conduct damage assessment, including confirming the impact of the weapon. In an environment where the United States and its allies have limited intelligence on the ground, these considerations would encourage allies to exercise greater discrimination and alleviate potentially negative consequences for the United States.”
-J. Dana Stuster
ABD DOUMANY/AFP/Getty Images