Report

Russia Hits Turkey with Sanctions, Continues Bombing near Border

Russian airstrikes along the Syrian-Turkish border continued this weekend, a week after Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian jet that crossed into Turkish airspace. At least 30 people were killed by attacks on the town of Ariha, in northwest Syria, which included a strike on a marketplace. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told senior leaders in ...

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Russian airstrikes along the Syrian-Turkish border continued this weekend, a week after Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian jet that crossed into Turkish airspace. At least 30 people were killed by attacks on the town of Ariha, in northwest Syria, which included a strike on a marketplace. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told senior leaders in Iran that foreign government supporting opposition fighters have stepped up their aid in the form of military equipment and financial resources since the start of regime offensive backed by Russian and Iranian military forces at the beginning of October.

Tensions between Turkey and Russia have remained high since the incident last week, and on Saturday Russia announced it was placing punitive sanctions on Turkey. Though Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan are both in Paris for climate talks this weekend, Russian officials said they would not be meeting.

Israel Suspends Some Contacts with European Union over Labeling Issue

Israel suspended diplomatic ties with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with European Union representatives on Sunday in response to the decision by European states to label goods manufactured in West Bank settlements. The European Union adopted the labeling standards on November 11. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement that contacts would remain suspended until a “reassessment process is completed.”

The spate of stabbings targeting Israelis continued on Sunday with two more incidents; one of the attackers was shot and killed.

Headlines

  • Turkish and European Union officials announced that they had reached an agreement that would devote $3.2 billion towards stemming the flow of refugees into Europe in exchange for the European Union accelerating Turkish accession to the organization.

 

  • Four Egyptian police officers were killed in a drive-by shooting near a tourist site on the outskirts of Cairo.

 

  • Tahir Elci, a prominent lawyer in Turkey facing charges for saying that the Turkish government wrongly classifies the PKK as a terrorist group, was shot and killed in southeastern Turkey; two police officers were also killed the attack.

 

  • Stalled clashes between Houthi fighters and loyalist forces backed by the Saudi-led international coalition in southern Yemen — in Daleh and Marib provinces, as well as the city of Taiz — left at least 20 rebels, four government forces, and three civilians dead; additionally, three people were killed by shelling along the Saudi-Yemeni border.

 

  • Two Israeli juveniles were convicted of participating in the beating and murder of a 16-year-old Palestinian that took place last year after the abduction and murder of three Israeli youths; the third suspect in the murder has entered an insanity plea.

Arguments and Analysis

What Military Target Was in My Brother’s House: Unlawful Coalition Airstrikes in Yemen” (Human Rights Watch)

“Under the laws of war, a party to the conflict may only attack military objectives, normally the enemy’s forces, their weapons, and their structures. In carrying out attacks, all feasible precautions need to be taken to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects. The weapons used and the manner in which the attack is carried out must distinguish between the military objective and civilians. Attacks in which there is no evident military target, that strike indiscriminately, or cause civilian harm disproportionate to the anticipated military gain, are unlawful. Human Rights Watch investigated several coalition airstrikes in which there was no evident military target in the vicinity, such as strikes on the markets at Muthalith Ahim and Amran. These amount to an unlawfully indiscriminate attack, if not a deliberate attack on civilians. In other cases, bombs struck, sometimes repeatedly, civilian objects a significant distance from any military objective, killing and wounding civilians. If insufficient precautions were taken to avoid civilian loss — such as not clearly identifying a military target or using weapons with wide area effects in populated neighborhoods — these attacks would also be indiscriminate. Attacks harming civilians might also have been the result of incorrect targeting coordinates or other errors — an inquiry would need to determine whether all feasible precautions were taken.”

 

Dying for a Cigarette: Iraqi Smokers Light Up to Challenge Extremists’ Rule around Mosul” (Nawzat Shamdeen, Niqash)

“Almost as soon as they arrived in the city the Islamic State, or IS, group banned smoking, whether of cigarettes or of the water pipes that are so popular in the Middle East. Most of the larger traders selling cigarettes or smoking paraphernalia in the city were located in the Bursa market and on Corniche Street in central Mosul. They were given two weeks to dispose of their product but many just hid stocks and raised prices to about IQD2,500 per packet (around US$2 — this is expensive by Iraqi standards). After two weeks, the IS group’s morality police, or Hisbah, began to look for smokers and cigarette sellers, confiscating stocks and punishing any who held them. The IS group’s intelligence task force, or Tahari, also helped to find the ‘criminals’. The IS group say they do not like smoking because although the Koran doesn’t explicitly ban cigarettes, they consider smoking a form of self-harm and a waste of money. As a result new rituals have arisen in Mosul around smoking. Locals smoke at home and don’t carry cigarettes or lighters anywhere. They might hide one cigarette among other items as they leave the house but that would be it. And they disguise the smell of their smoking with the perfumed oils that can be bought at stores selling religious paraphernalia.”

-J. Dana Stuster

OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images

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