Report

Syrian Opposition Consolidates for Talks, Islamic State Finance Minister Killed

Syrian opposition groups meeting in Saudi Arabia agreed to form a more inclusive opposition organization to participate in international negotiations. “This is the widest participation for the opposition, inside and outside of Syria, and we have the participation of the armed groups,” said a representative of the Syrian National Coalition. U.S. Secretary of State John ...

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Syrian opposition groups meeting in Saudi Arabia agreed to form a more inclusive opposition organization to participate in international negotiations. “This is the widest participation for the opposition, inside and outside of Syria, and we have the participation of the armed groups,” said a representative of the Syrian National Coalition. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the agreement “an important step forward.” A Kremlin spokesperson commenting on the opposition’s organizing talks said that the “fate of Assad should be discussed by Syrians themselves, not Russia.” He said there are discussions underway to determine which groups could be included in diplomatic talks and which would be excluded as terrorist groups.

The Islamic State’s finance minister, Abu Saleh, was killed in an a strike last month in Iraq, U.S. officials announced yesterday. “Killing him and his predecessors exhausts the knowledge and talent needed to coordinate funding within the organization,” Pentagon spokesperson Col. Steve Warren said. Two other Islamic State officials were also killed, one of whom supported the Islamic State’s extortion network and another who worked on the transportation of information, people, and weapons.

Canada Welcomes First Syrian Refugees

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally greeted the first round of Syrian refugees entering Canada for resettlement. The refugees arrived aboard a Canadian military plane at an airport in Toronto. “This is a wonderful night, where we get to show not just a planeload of new Canadians what Canada is all about, we get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations,” he said.

Headlines

  • With peace talks slated to begin next week, U.N. officials say they are hopeful about increased humanitarian access and the implementation of a new verification and inspection mechanism that could streamline the delivery of necessary aid.

 

  • A representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shia cleric in Iraq, condemned Turkey’s deployment of troops to northern Iraq and called on Baghdad to “protect the sovereignty of Iraq.”

 

  • A Palestinian man who drove his car into a crowd of Israelis in the West Bank near the city of Hebron was shot by Israeli security forces; 19 Israelis and 109 Palestinians have died since the spate of violence began in mid-September.

 

  • Branding featuring the name of presidential candidate Donald Trump was removed from a golf course and luxury housing development in Dubai; Trump’s business in the Middle East has been jeopardized by his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

 

  • Greece has ordered the extradition to the United States of a Syrian man wanted on an international warrant for producing fake passport documents.

Arguments and Analysis

Deciphering Algeria: the stirrings of reform?” (Andrew Lebovich, European Council on Foreign Relations)

“The vision of Algeria as a stagnant country heading for crisis has, however, obscured important shifts within the country’s politics, security architecture, and regional and international outlook. While Algeria’s government has only recently begun to take significant action to shore up the country’s heavily hydrocarbon-dependent economy, growing internal consensus over the need for political and economic reforms — even among politicians and business leaders close to the government — may help push the country towards a tentative political and economic opening. Against this background, this paper will argue that the EU and those member states with the greatest connection to Algeria should expand their engagement with the country, broadening their contacts and seeking to more effectively leverage opportunities that exist for current partnerships, while laying the ground for deeper relations in the future.”

 

What Americans really think about Muslims and Islam” (Shibley Telhami, Markaz)

“In the end, does it really matter how Americans view Muslims? Enormously — and not just because of policy implications, but also because it inevitably affects the way Muslims see themselves. Our current debate is of course colored by the breathtaking exaggerations of an unusually intense political season. In the process, we forget that religion and ethnicity are often only small parts — sometimes mere afterthoughts — of how people see themselves. A New York lawyer, Anika Rahman, captured this complexity well in the days after 9/11 when she wrote in the New York Times: ‘I am so used to thinking about myself as a New Yorker that it took me a few days to begin to see myself as a stranger might: a Muslim woman, an outsider, perhaps an enemy of the city. Before last week, I had thought of myself as a lawyer, a feminist, a wife, a sister, a friend, a woman on the street.’ It’s a reminder that identity is a relationship. People define themselves in part as a function of how others view them; we are what we have to defend. The worst thing that Americans can do is paint the wrong picture of Muslims — including their own fellow Americans.”

-J. Dana Stuster

FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

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