Russian Plan for Syria Leaks before Talks
Russia is expected to propose an eight-point plan to end Syria’s civil war at talks in Vienna later this week, according to documents obtained by Reuters. The plan would include an 18-month constitutional reform process including members of the Syrian regime and opposition and would conclude with early elections. The proposal does not mandate that ...
Russia is expected to propose an eight-point plan to end Syria’s civil war at talks in Vienna later this week, according to documents obtained by Reuters. The plan would include an 18-month constitutional reform process including members of the Syrian regime and opposition and would conclude with early elections. The proposal does not mandate that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down or refrain from participating in elections, a potential sticking point for the plan, but does state that Assad “will not chair the constitutional commission.” A spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry refused to discuss the document with Reuters and said that no proposal was being prepared for the talks this week.
Western officials were skeptical of the leaked plan, particularly its allowance for Assad to run for re-election. “The document does not suit a lot of people,” an anonymous official told Reuters. On Monday, British Foreign Secretary reiterated the demand that a transition process mandate Assad leaving power. “We do not believe that it is going to be possible to bring the opposition groups into the political process and have an effective ceasefire unless we have a clear point at which President Assad will depart,” he told reporters at the United Nations. Separately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his call for implementing a no-fly zone in Syria today and said he would raise the issue at a meeting of the G20 in Antalya, Turkey, this week.
Middle East-South American Trade Summit Begins
A triennial trade summit bringing together South American and Middle East heads of state began today in Saudi Arabia. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was in attendance and praised Middle East-South American cooperation in a speech, saying that “This history — largely one of harmony, integration and achievement — sends a powerful message at a time when the world is wrestling with the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War.” Though the summit is designed to boost trade between South America and the Middle East, other opening speeches included remarks on counterterrorism and shared concern for the plight of Palestinians.
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- The Egyptian military released journalist and rights activist Hossam Bahgat on Tuesday, hours before protests against his arrest were scheduled to occur; Bahgat had been held and questioned since Sunday regarding a report on a military trial published in August.
- A series of attacks in Baghdad, including two bombings and a drive-by shooting, left 10 civilians dead.
- Russian officials said the ban on commercial flights to Egypt will continue for several months amid suspicions that the Oct. 31 Metrojet crash was the result of a bombing.
- A British man who was arrested in Saudi Arabia in August 2014 and sentenced to 350 lashes for possession of homemade wine has been released and returned to Britain without being flogged.
- Israel’s Foreign Ministry declared that a long-discussed measure adopted by the European Union to label imported goods produced at Israeli settlements is an “exceptional and discriminatory step.”
Arguments and Analysis
“Is Bombing a Civilian Airliner a Game-Changer for the Islamic State?” (Erica Chenoweth, Political Violence at a Glance)
“Fifth, the attack tells us nothing new about the way in which insurgencies behave when attacked from abroad. In fact, IS is now behaving as many analysts expected. Retaliatory attacks are anticipated reactions to foreign interventions against such groups. Robert Pape made this argument popular in his seminal 2003 piece explaining that campaigns of suicide bombing, for instance, often followed foreign invasions. Notwithstanding methodological critiques of Pape’s work, the finding that foreign intervention results in retaliatory terror attacks against any accessible civilians associated with the intervener is a finding that the literature well substantiates at this point. In conflicts like this, terror attacks are an expected (albeit unintended) outcome of foreign intervention, particularly when such intervention supports the government.”
“A statement by Hossam Bahgat on his military detention, interrogation” (Hossam Bahgat, Mada Masr)
“Today, on Tuesday, at noon, I was blindfolded and escorted by an armed guard in a car to military intelligence again. I met with two officers, a general and a lieutenant colonel, for an hour, and was informed for the first time that the prosecution had ordered my detention for four days pending investigations, but that military intelligence had decided to release me today. At the end of the meeting, I wrote a statement that was dictated to me stating: ‘I will abide by legal and security procedures when publishing material pertaining to the Armed Forces’ and asserting that I did not experience any physical or emotional abuse during my detention at military intelligence. My possessions were returned to me and I was allowed to leave. I still do not know the fate of the investigations into the two charges mentioned above. Defense lawyers will try to clarify the matter in the coming days. Throughout the course of my interrogation by military prosecution, they reiterated that I do not enjoy the legal and syndicate protection that journalists have, because I am not a member of the Journalists Syndicate.”
-J. Dana Stuster
John Moore/Getty Images