Report

Two Bombings Target Aden

Two bombs struck the city of Aden, Yemen, on Wednesday. The first struck an abandoned Catholic church in the Mualla district of the city and the second went off outside an office of the Yemeni Foreign Ministry in the Almansoura district. No casualties were reported in either attack and no organization has claimed responsibility. Yemen’s ...

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Two bombs struck the city of Aden, Yemen, on Wednesday. The first struck an abandoned Catholic church in the Mualla district of the city and the second went off outside an office of the Yemeni Foreign Ministry in the Almansoura district. No casualties were reported in either attack and no organization has claimed responsibility. Yemen’s internationally-recognized government is currently operating from Aden while the capital and much of the country is contested by Houthi rebels.

The death toll in the Yemen war is receiving new scrutiny from the United Nations and non-governmental organizations. At least 2,600 civilians have been killed in fighting since March, the majority of them by airstrikes. The Saudi-led coalition “is not taking enough precautions to avoid civilian casualties,” Human Rights Watch’s Ole Solvang told the Wall Street Journal. Peace talks are set to begin next week.

Manhunt for Paris Suspect Continues in Geneva as New Attacker Identified

Geneva is on high alert today as officials follow up on reports of suspicious individuals who may have been connected to the Islamic State’s November 13 attacks in Paris. At least one of the terrorists who participated in the attacks remains at large. Another, one of the three men who attacked the Bataclan concert hall, has been identified as Foued Mohamed-Aggad, a French national who had traveled to Syria. He was identified when his mother came forward after receiving a text message from the Islamic State informing her that her “son died a martyr on November 13.” French officials thought he was still in Syria and are unaware how he reentered the country before the attack.

Headlines

  • Russia dismissed an accusation made by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that Russia is committing an ethnic cleansing of Turkmen in Syria; the two countries have been trading barbed accusations since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane last month.

 

  • The United States is prepared to offer combat advisors and helicopters for close air support to help Iraqi forces retake Ramadi and other cities in Anbar, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said in a Senate hearing yesterday.

 

  • After reaffirming the principal goals of the Syrian opposition in a statement yesterday, opposition groups meeting in Saudi Arabia today moved on to the process of selecting a delegation to represent the rebels in international negotiations.

 

  • The Islamic State recaptured areas around Maheen and Hawareen in central Syria after losing them to Assad regime forces just last month.

 

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump canceled plans to travel to Israel and meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the end of the month; Netanyahu distanced himself from Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States but was still facing criticism from members of the Knesset who signed a letter asking him to call off the meeting.

Arguments and Analysis

The Need for Arab Police Reform” (Yezid Sayigh, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

“Reducing counter-terrorism strategies to ‘kinetic’ means — drone and air strikes — and relying overwhelmingly on IT to acquire intelligence, as the United States has opted to do since 2001, has done nothing to counter the drivers of radicalization. Quite the reverse, it has only further damaged societies already wracked by massive dislocation and physical attrition. It is also failing in its primary goal of identifying, containing, and rolling back the threat of terrorism, especially in Arab countries that have suffered far higher levels of death and destruction than their Western counterparts. Only through a determined and sustained effort to bring about accountable, legitimate, and professional policing can counter-terrorism be truly effective, rather than counter-productive.”

 

A Jihadism Anti-Primer” (Darryl Li, Middle East Report)

“Discussions of jihad today are like a secularized form of demonology. They stem from a place of horror that shuts down serious thinking about politics. Perhaps the most striking example of this orientation is a summer 2015 analysis in the New York Review of Books — like much of its ilk, widely circulated but quickly forgotten — declaring ISIS simply too horrific to be analyzed. Indeed, the magazine’s unexplained decision to grant anonymity to the author (described only as a ‘former official of a NATO country’), despite the lack of any sensitive information in the article, seemed only to reinforce this sense of radical cataclysmic difference. The problem with all demonologies, however, is that they all too easily give rise to witch hunts. By positing jihadism as a problem about Islam, the debate is nearly always framed around questions of authenticity: How much do groups like al-Qaeda or ISIS represent something inherent to Islam and Islam only — or, in other words, how afraid should ‘we’ be of Muslims?”

-J. Dana Stuster

SALEH AL-OBEIDI/AFP/Getty Images

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