Report

Syrian Official’s Visit to Oman Prompts Rumors of Renewed Diplomacy

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem continued a trip through the region by meeting with officials in Oman yesterday. The sides agreed “that now is the time to unite the efforts to end this (Syrian) crisis,” according to Syrian state media. Muallem met with Iranian and Russian officials in Tehran earlier this week. The trip could ...

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Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem continued a trip through the region by meeting with officials in Oman yesterday. The sides agreed “that now is the time to unite the efforts to end this (Syrian) crisis,” according to Syrian state media. Muallem met with Iranian and Russian officials in Tehran earlier this week.

The trip could be a prelude to renewed diplomacy. Oman is one of the few countries in the region with strong political relationships with both Iran and the Gulf states. The visit has prompted rumors of a possible meeting of Saudi, Syrian, and Iranian officials in Muscat.

U.S. Transfers Islamic State Detainee to Kurds

The United States has transferred Nasrin As’ad Ibrahim, who was captured by U.S. forces in a raid on Islamic State finance official Abu Sayyaf in May, to the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq for trial. The Iraqi government requested the transfer, citing provisions in the Iraqi constitution, but the United States considered trying Ibrahim in the United States. “We have a firm belief that she will be held to account for her crimes, though we cannot guarantee any particular result,” NSC spokesman spokesman Alistair Baskey told Defense One.

Headlines

  • After a week of hype, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi inaugurated the new channel of the Suez Canal yesterday from a historic yacht in a pomp and circumstance-filled ceremony.

 

  • The Islamic State claimed credit for bombing a Saudi mosque in Asir where soldiers involved in the country’s Yemen campaign were praying; at least 10 people were killed.

 

  • In Syria, the Islamic State abducted dozens of people from al-Qaryatain, many of them Christians who had fled sectarian fighting in Aleppo.

 

  • International container ship companies resumed business with Iran this week, though some companies expressed reservations about renewed shipping prior to sanctions relief being implemented.

 

  • Isabelle Prime, a French employee of the World Bank who has been held captive in Yemen since February, has been released, according to the French government.

Arguments and Analysis

Will the Iran nuclear deal create a more stable Middle East? That all depends — on the United States” (Kenneth M. Pollack, Markaz)

“What could potentially cause Iran to change its behavior — for good or ill — are the policies the United States pursues in the region going forward. If the United States uses the JCPOA as an excuse to further disengage from the region, it is highly likely that Iran’s goals will become more expansive and its policies more aggressive, believing that the United States no longer has the will or the capability to stop it. On the other hand, if the United States reacts to the JCPOA by stepping up its engagement in the region and acting decisively — providing real, meaningful assurances to its Gulf allies that it truly is concerned with protecting their security interests and pushing back hard on Iran in other areas, particularly in Syria — then it is very likely that the Iranians will respond in the same way they always have the United States has flexed its muscles: by backing down. As always, the United States is master of its own fate to a much greater extent than any other country on earth, even in the turbulent and unpredictable Middle East.”

 

Hot Take on the GOP Debate: National Security” (Kori Schake, War on the Rocks)

“Everybody was a mess on the Middle East.  Ted Cruz thinks ‘speaking the truth’ is evidently the way to defeat the Islamic State and dissed General Dempsey for not saying the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ Carson seemed to think political correctness is what needs fighting, inverted the civil-military relationship so that the generals would have a free hand to win the wars (and sounded suspiciously close to endorsing torture). Rand Paul argued we should destroy the Islamic State…but not fight them. He seemed to believe we were actually arming the allies of the Islamic State and should stop. After arguing for disengaging from the Middle East, he argued we should have ‘negotiated from a position of strength’ on Iran. Jeb Bush still doesn’t have a convincing answer to the Iraq question and conflated Iran and the Islamic State.  Everybody — with the possible exception of Paul — would vacate the Iran deal, but nobody had any bright ideas about how to contain Iran’s multidimensional threat.  Walker sounded trite, explaining he’d slap more sanctions on Iran and get the Europeans to follow. Huckabee ominously said of Iran ‘when somebody loads a gun and points it at your head, by God you’d better take them seriously,’ but his prescription was unclear.”

-J. Dana Stuster

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

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