Rebels and Hezbollah Establish a Truce in Western Syria
A 48-hour truce between Syrian rebels and Hezbollah was brokered on Wednesday morning. Both the rebel held town of Zabadani and an area including two small Shi’ite villages in the Idlib province have halted fighting after a six-week period of intensive attacks from both sides. An official in Damascus claims the ceasefire will benefit both ...
A 48-hour truce between Syrian rebels and Hezbollah was brokered on Wednesday morning. Both the rebel held town of Zabadani and an area including two small Shi’ite villages in the Idlib province have halted fighting after a six-week period of intensive attacks from both sides. An official in Damascus claims the ceasefire will benefit both sides allowing time for the evacuation of rebel fighters from Zabadani and the evacuation of civilians from the Idlib province.
Three officials in Damascus described the truce as a result of Turkish and Iranian mediation. Turkish activity in the region has aimed to back the rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, while the Iranians have been vital to Assad’s survival. The ceasefire shows the first strong sign of a new regional approach to combating the conflict in Syria and marks one of the first steps toward peace in the last four years of failed international diplomacy.
Prime Minister of Libya Promises to Resign
The Prime Minister of Libya, Abdullah al-Thinni, promised to resign early Wednesday morning while being broadcasted on live TV answering questions from angry citizens who criticized his administration as ineffective. A Libyan government official later dismissed the Prime Minister’s remarks claiming al-Thinni would have to submit his resignation to the Iranian Parliament. The live broadcast ‘resignation’ comes just as the United Nations tries to negotiate peace talks between al-Thinni’s government, which was driven out of the capital last year, and the current Tripoli-based, Libya Dawn government run by an alliance of local Islamist militant groups.
-Suspected U.S. drone strike targets and kills five al Qaeda militants traveling in a vehicle near the coastal city of Mukalla, Yemen.
-The Islamic State claims to have beheaded a Croatian hostage abducted in Egypt on Wednesday according to posts on Islamic State-affiliated social media accounts.
-The Syrian Conservatory of Human Rights claims the Islamic State released 22 Assyrian Christians out of more than the 200 captured in northeastern Syria last February.
-Thirteen killed and more than 60 injured as rebels attacked Damascus, Syria ahead of the Iranian Foreign Minister’s official trip to the Syrian state capital on Wednesday.
-Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, continues to push for a no-fly zone over northern Syria to protect civilians fleeing both the violence of the Islamic State and the Syrian government forces.
Arguments and Analysis
“Repression in Egypt from Mubarak to Sisi” (Maged Mandour, Sada Journal, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
“Since July 2013, Egyptian authorities have undertaken a campaign of repression against dissidents. Over the past two years, the scope and severity of this campaign has surpassed any that Egypt saw under Hosni Mubarak. Most notably, security forces attacked mostly peaceful Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque and al-Nahda Square in 2013, killing at least 817 people; initiated a campaign of mass arrests of over 40,000 political prisoners (compared to 5,000-10,000 political prisoners near the end of Mubarak’s rule); and issued 509 mass execution sentences in 2014, an increase of 400 sentences compared to 2013. In addition, the nature of repression shifted from a measured, calculated approach under Mubarak to an unrestricted and systematic campaign under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The authorities have killed unarmed civilians; used sexual violence against women, men, and children with greater impunity; and conducted forced disappearances at unprecedented levels.”
“Where in the World is Al Qaeda’s Leader?” (Bruce Riedel, Markaz, Brookings)
“The emir of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahri, has not made any public statements since September 2014. His now 11-month long absence is unprecedented. Next month will be a key test for Zawahri: the anniversary of 9/11—a milestone he has spoken out on for years. Al-Zawahri was chosen by Osama bin Laden to be his successor. A veteran of 35 years of terrorist plotting, the Egyptian has legitimacy and experience. But he has a lot of other baggage too. He is a poor speaker, prone to ideological fights, and lacks bin Laden’s charisma.”
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