Kuwait Joins Saudi Allies in Breaking Ties with Iran
The fallout from Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr continues today. Kuwait has now joined Bahrain and Sudan in severing diplomatic ties with Iran in solidarity with Saudi Arabia, which announced on Sunday that it was breaking ties after an angry mob stormed its embassy in Tehran. The United Arab Emirates said it ...
The fallout from Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr continues today. Kuwait has now joined Bahrain and Sudan in severing diplomatic ties with Iran in solidarity with Saudi Arabia, which announced on Sunday that it was breaking ties after an angry mob stormed its embassy in Tehran. The United Arab Emirates said it would downgrade its diplomatic relations, but stopped short of a complete break with Iran. On Monday, Iraqi officials and police said that two Sunni mosques had been attacked the day before in apparent retaliation for Nimr’s execution. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, however, blamed the attacks on the Islamic State “and those who are similar to them.”
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged Saudi Arabia and Iran to deescalate the situation quickly and offered to mediate between the countries. “Diplomatic channels must be given a chance immediately. As Turkey, we are ready to offer any constructive help we can for a solution,” he said in a parliamentary meeting. Saudi Arabia, for its part, has downplayed the potential effect the diplomatic tensions could have on upcoming peace talks on the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars.
Islamic State Attacks Oil Terminals in Libya
Islamic State fighters operating in eastern Libya attacked two oil terminals yesterday, detonating car bombs outside the gates of an oil facility at Es Sider and shooting at a separate facility at Ras Lanuf. Islamic State fighters returned to continue their attack on Es Sider this morning. Both facilities have been closed for more than a year but still contain large quantities of oil, and the incident at Ras Lanuf reportedly ignited a storage tank containing crude oil. In statements claiming credit for the attacks, Islamic State fighters also said they had shot down a Libyan military jet and seized the town of Bin Jawad, but these claims could not be verified.
- Hezbollah targeted an Israeli patrol with a roadside bomb attack near the Shebaa Farms region of the Israel-Lebanon border; the Israeli military responded to the attack with artillery fire.
- Saudi Arabia has resumed large-scale airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, particularly in Sanaa, Taiz, and Hodaida, following the end of a ceasefire for the conflict over the weekend and the escalation of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
- The Islamic State conducted a coordinated attack on Iraqi troops and pro-government Sunni militiamen near Haditha, Iraq; 11 troops were killed and 30 wounded when they came under attack from a suicide car bomber and roadside bombs.
- A senior parliamentarian in the Kurdistan Regional Government said the semi-autonomous Kurdish region will withhold oil from the Baghdad government and export it independently to make up for the KRG’s share of the Iraqi federal budget.
- The bodies of several refugees fleeing from Turkey to Europe by boat have washed ashore near Dikili and Ayvalik, Turkey; so far, 21 refugees have drowned in 2016 trying to make the passage.
Arguments and Analysis
“The Saudi execution will reverberate across the Muslim world” (Brian Whitaker, The Guardian)
“More seriously, but no less predictably, the inflaming of sectarianism will have knock-on effects in Syria and Iraq. In Syria, where Saudi Arabia backs Sunni Islamists and Iran is supporting President Assad, we can expect a hardening of positions at a time when international peace efforts are aimed at softening them and starting a dialogue. Ditto with Iraq. As Patey put it in his interview: “If you are trying to repair the Sunni-Shia split in Iraq in order to have a united front against Daesh, this will make life a bit more difficult.” Interestingly, just a day before Nimr’s execution Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad after a 25-year break. While this was formally hailed as the start of a new era in cooperation, some see it as an attempt to counter Iranian influence in Iraq and establish an unofficial mouthpiece for Iraqi Sunnis in Baghdad. It may also be worth recalling that nine Qatari royals disappeared in Iraq last month, apparently kidnapped while hunting with falcons. An unconfirmed report by Erem News, an Emirati website, claimed that their captors were seeking to exchange them for Nimr al-Nimr.”
“Fixing How We Fight the Islamic State’s Narrative” (Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Nathaniel Barr, War on the Rocks)
“While there is no shortage of actors interested in developing narratives that can counter violent extremist propaganda, the CVE [countering violent extremism] space is noticeably lacking in analytic frameworks that illustrate the various purposes of counter-messaging efforts, highlight how parallel projects fit together, and help practitioners evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives. Thus, much of the work in this sphere has been ad hoc and piecemeal. It is often unclear who the target audiences are for counter-messaging campaigns, and even the campaigns’ objectives can be amorphous. This absence of an analytic framework leaves CVE practitioners at a disadvantage. We aim to fill the gap by providing an analytic framework illuminating the variegated purposes of a counter-messaging campaign, and demonstrating how these various purposes can be applied to different aspects of the Islamic State’s narrative.”
-J. Dana Stuster
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