Report

Israel and Turkey Reach Deal to Restore Diplomatic Relations

Israeli and Turkish diplomats have reportedly reached a preliminary agreement to restore normal diplomatic relations, which were suspended in 2010 when 10 activists were killed by Israeli troops boarding a ship, the Mavi Marmara, that was trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Under the terms of the agreement, Israel will establish a fund ...

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Israeli and Turkish diplomats have reportedly reached a preliminary agreement to restore normal diplomatic relations, which were suspended in 2010 when 10 activists were killed by Israeli troops boarding a ship, the Mavi Marmara, that was trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Under the terms of the agreement, Israel will establish a fund to provide compensation to the families of the dead activists and Turkey will drop criminal charges against Israeli officers. Turkey has also agreed to cooperate with Israel to prevent a senior Hamas operative from entering the country.

The groundwork for the agreement, which has yet to be finalized, was laid at a recent meeting of senior Israeli and Turkish diplomats in Switzerland. President Obama has pushed for a reconciliation agreement for years and an administration official called the arrangement “a welcome step.” Israeli opposition politicians have already criticized the agreement, saying that the “damage has already been done” and that it “must not give Erdogan a foothold in Gaza.”

U.N. Security Council Votes for Stronger Measures to Prevent Financing Terrorism

Finance ministers from the U.N. Security Council states met in New York yesterday for a session chaired by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew that focused on halting the financing of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. The Security Council voted unanimously to approve new measures to target individuals involved in financing terrorism and facilitating greater information sharing between countries.

Headlines

  • Yemeni negotiators in Switzerland reached a breakthrough yesterday, setting terms to allow the provision of humanitarian aid to the city of Taiz.

 

  • The United States is sending weapons to Syrian Arab rebels participating in the Syrian Democratic Forces coalition ahead of an anticipated assault on the city of al-Shadadi, described as a logistical hub for the Islamic State.

 

  • Turkish clashes with Kurdish militants left 24 dead in the city of Cizre; at a rally, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the country would be “cleansed” of Kurdish militants.

 

  • Diplomats from the United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, among others, are meeting in New York today to discuss the contours of a potential peace plan for Syria to be presented an international talks next month.

 

  • Approximately 20 U.S. Special Forces left an airfield in Libya when they were asked to leave by the air force, with which they had not coordinated; the U.S. troops were working with the Libyan army, which U.S. officials say has been happening on an advisory basis.

Arguments and Analysis

China, Egypt Imprison Record Numbers of Journalists” (Elana Beiser, Committee to Protect Journalists)

“Perhaps nowhere has the climate for the press deteriorated more rapidly than in Egypt, now the second worst jailer of journalists worldwide. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi continues to use the pretext of national security to clamp down on dissent. Cairo is holding 23 journalists in jail, compared with 12 a year ago. As recently as 2012, no journalists were in jail for their work in Egypt. Those behind bars include Ismail Alexandrani, a freelancer who focuses on the troubled Sinai Peninsula and who was recently arrested on arrival in Egypt from Germany. Conditions for the media have also taken a turn for the worse in Turkey, which doubled the number of journalists in jail over the year to 14. The country released dozens of journalists in 2014 after being the world’s worst jailer for two consecutive years, but in 2015 — amid two general elections, further entanglement in the Syrian civil war, and the end of a fragile ceasefire with fighters of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — fresh arrests make it the fifth worst jailer globally. Most recently, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, senior staff members of independent daily Cumhuriyet, were arrested on charges of espionage and aiding an alleged terrorist group after publishing reports that alleged Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) had transferred weapons to Syria under cover of humanitarian aid.”

 

The Syrian military has thousands of deserters. New research tells us why they left.” (Dorothy Ohl, Kevin Koehler, and Holger Albrecht, Monkey Cage)

“International strategies have so far aimed at strengthening belligerents through financial support or direct military intervention. This has contributed to a vicious cycle of violence rather than to conflict settlement. Moreover, dire economic circumstances among Syrian refugee communities have made these groups susceptible to recruitment efforts. Better funded than other rebel groups, jihadist militias and particularly the Islamic State have an edge in such efforts. In contrast, encouraging desertions without bolstering recruitment could weaken the regime without strengthening actors such as the Islamic State. Given what we know about the dynamics of desertion from the regime army and recruitment into the rebellion, improving the fate of the large Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere could go a long way toward  addressing both issues.”

-J. Dana Stuster

Alex Wong/Getty Images

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