Report

U.S. Special Operations Forces Deploy to Iraq

A deployment of U.S. Special Operations Forces that will assist Iraqi troops with better coordinating and targeting for coalition airstrikes has arrived in Iraq, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said in a speech yesterday in Kentucky. Carter also revealed that U.S. forces had assisted Syrian rebels in an attack in December to retake the ...

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A deployment of U.S. Special Operations Forces that will assist Iraqi troops with better coordinating and targeting for coalition airstrikes has arrived in Iraq, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said in a speech yesterday in Kentucky. Carter also revealed that U.S. forces had assisted Syrian rebels in an attack in December to retake the Tishreen Dam, putting pressure on the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa. “While I cannot give you specifics, I can tell you these forces have already established contact with new forces that share our goals, new lines of communication to local, motivated and capable partners, and new targets for airstrikes and strikes of all kinds,” Carter said.

In addition to the deployment of Special Operations Forces, the United States is considering a request from Turkish generals to begin training and equipping Sunni forces in Syria to secure the Turkish border. “The one thing they have asked us to do is they have some groups they’ve identified that they’d like to have us help train and equip,” Gen. Joe Dunford told reporters. Previous U.S. efforts to train and equip Syrian rebel groups have collapsed because of stringent vetting standards and rebels being captured by rival rebel groups for participating in the U.S. program.

Car Bomb Targets Police Building in Southeastern Turkey

A car bomb targeting the Cinar district police complex in southeastern Turkey killed six people and wounded at least 39 others this morning. Turkish officials have blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party for the attack. On Tuesday night, Turkish jets carried out airstrikes on three PKK bases in northern Iraq. The PKK’s Avasin-Basyan, Gare, and Zap camps were identified by reconnaissance drones before the airstrikes. The European Court of Human Rights announced yesterday that it will not grant an injunction to pressure Turkey to lift a curfew that has been imposed on Kurdish towns for months.

Headlines

  • U.N. investigators are speaking to the residents of Madaya, Syria, where civilians were being starved to death under a government siege, as part of a commission of inquiry documenting war crimes in the ongoing civil war; a second convoy of aid is en route to the city.

 

  • Monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are scheduled to visit Iran’s Arak nuclear facility today, where Iranian officials say they have removed the core of the plutonium reactor; the core will be filled with concrete to prevent its use, according to the terms of the P5+1 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

 

  • Turkish police have now detained seven people in connection to the deadly blast that targeted a crowd of tourists in Istanbul on Monday, according to Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala.

 

  • A security officer who worked at the airport in Aden, Yemen, was killed by gunmen outside of his home on Tuesday; Aden has been the site of a series of assassinations in recent months.

 

  • An Iraqi refugee who has been living in the United States since 2009 pleaded not guilty to charges that he was trying to detonate bombs at malls in the United States on behalf of the Islamic State.

Arguments and Analysis

Has Jordan Acquiesced to Assad Regime Offensive in Southern Syria?” (Osama al Sharif, Middle East Institute)

“The recent campaign aims at strengthening the bargaining position of the Damascus regime, and its Russian and Iranian allies, ahead of planned negotiations between the government and the opposition later this month. Russia’s involvement in the campaign has raised questions about an earlier ‘understanding’ reached between King Abdullah of Jordan and President Vladimir Putin not to change the status quo in the south of Syria. The king had met Putin in Moscow on November 25, where it was reported that an agreement with the Kremlin was reached a month earlier to ensure ‘Russian bombing of targets in southern Syria, which borders the country, does not target Western-backed rebels known as the Southern Front — a grouping it supports as a buffer against the spread of hardline Islamist groups.’ That understanding was dubbed by Jordanian political analyst Mohammad Abu Rumman ‘a gentleman’s agreement.’”

 

Ali al-Muqri: ‘As for Writers, There’s Nothing They Can Do’” (M. Lynx Qualey, Arabic Literature (in English))

“I′d make a distinction between intellectuals and writers. You can describe a lot of people as the intelligentsia, including members of the military, regime politicians and murderers. As for writers, there′s nothing they can do about the terrible situation in Yemen. They live under bombing and mortar fire, the same as everyone else, with the same shortage of basic necessities like water, food and electricity. You can’t expect anything more of them than to put up resistance against death and stay in the country, despite the adverse conditions.”

-J. Dana Stuster

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