UAE Rescues British Hostage amid Yemen Civil War
An Emirati “military intelligence operation” on Sunday freed Robert Semple, a British oil engineer who was captured in Yemen’s Hadramout province by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in February 2014. Semple was transported safely out of Yemen to Abu Dhabi. The United Arab Emirates has played a prominent role in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, ...
An Emirati “military intelligence operation” on Sunday freed Robert Semple, a British oil engineer who was captured in Yemen’s Hadramout province by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in February 2014. Semple was transported safely out of Yemen to Abu Dhabi. The United Arab Emirates has played a prominent role in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, deploying special forces and engaging in diplomacy to persuade tribes to back the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Elsewhere, the front of Yemen’s civil war has now advanced to the city of Taiz, which is being contested by Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed intervention force. Dozens were killed by Houthi rocket fire and coalition airstrikes over the past several days, according to residents and Doctors without Borders.
Islamic State Destroys Ancient Sites at Palmyra and Qaryatain
The Islamic State detonated explosives around the ancient Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra, Syria, severely damaging one of the most significant archeological sites there. On Friday, the Islamic State razed the St. Elian Monastery, a sacred pilgrimage site for Assyrian Christians near Qaryatain, Syria. In response to the destruction of the monastery, the head of UNESCO said on Friday that the Islamic State is engaged in “the most brutal systematic destruction of world heritage” since World War II.
- British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visited Tehran over the weekend for a ceremony reopening the British Embassy there and a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
- The Islamic State may have used mustard gas in a mortar attack on the town of Marea, north of Aleppo, on Friday, according to doctors at a nearby field hospital familiar with the symptoms.
- The Lebanese military was deployed Sunday to quell riots in Beirut that began as protests regarding the collapse of the city’s trash collection system; dozens of police and protesters have been injured over the past two days.
- Two Egyptian police officers were killed and 27 others injured when the bus they were traveling in was targeted in a bomb attack in the town of Beheira.
- Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie was sentenced to life in prison for his supposed involvement in the bombing of a police station in Port Said in 2013; Badie has two death sentences and four life imprisonment sentences pending.
Arguments and Analysis
“Garbage Crisis: Setting the Record Straight” (Sami Atallah, Lebanese Center for Policy Studies)
“The garbage is mounting, yet, not a single public official has been held accountable for the crisis. In a twist of irony, the ISF information branch, whose duty it is to protect the country from acts of terrorism, was promptly mobilized to arrest four citizens who dared to throw garbage left on the street by those in power at a minister. This is meant to remind the population, in case they have forgotten, that the weak and vulnerable who are suffering disproportionately from the crisis will be prosecuted while the rich and powerful who have caused the problem roam freely.”
“Iraq: Conflict Alert” (International Crisis Group)
“Abadi has raised expectations of a deeply impatient public. Failure to meet them would play into militia commanders’ hands. They and their allies do not want to openly defy Sistani, but if street dissatisfaction peaks again, they will be ready to sow chaos, especially in southern provinces where frustration grows daily. Militia members in the protests could spark clashes with police or popular mobilisation branches affiliated with other Shiite groups lacking equal Iranian support, including Moqtada al-Sadr’s Peace Brigades. If popular anger explodes, those on the militias’ side could denounce existing institutions as obsolete and, on the pretext of reestablishing order, use military superiority to impose their rule. Abadi needs to display consummate political skill. Rather than unilaterally rushing through dramatic changes that challenge the legal order, he should work with his political partners to put forward a clear, realistic plan that reinforces that order, using Sistani’s support to manage expectations and mitigate the street’s impatience.”
-J. Dana Stuster
AHMAD AL-BASHA/AFP/Getty Images