Report

Assad Regime Did Not Respond to Majority of Aid Requests

The need for humanitarian aid in Syria has drastically increased over the past year, but the Assad regime has failed to respond to requests to deliver aid in a large majority of instances, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told the U.N. Security Council yesterday. Of 113 requests from the United Nations to provide inter-agency ...

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The need for humanitarian aid in Syria has drastically increased over the past year, but the Assad regime has failed to respond to requests to deliver aid in a large majority of instances, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told the U.N. Security Council yesterday. Of 113 requests from the United Nations to provide inter-agency aid convoys, only 10 percent were allowed to reach their destination; the regime granted preliminary permission to another 10 percent of requests, but they were not granted final approval or could not proceed due to security concerns. In 75 percent of cases, the regime did not respond to aid requests. The U.N. assessment of the number of people in need of aid in Syria grew to 13.5 million in 2015, up from 1.3 million in 2014.

O’Brien’s presentation comes ahead of peace talks that could begin as soon as tomorrow. The opposition High Negotiations Committee has still not reached a decision about whether it will participate, but reiterated its conditions for participating yesterday.

Egyptian Auditor Could Face Prosecution after Controversial Corruption Report

A commission appointed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has accused Egypt’s top auditing official, Hesham Genena, of “misleading the public with the help of unnamed ‘foreign’ parties,” the Associated Press reports. Genena reported last month that corruption has cost Egypt $75 billion over the last four years. The pro-government media, which has close ties to Egyptian businessmen and retired government officials, reacted by branding Genena a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. Though Genena has constitutional immunity, the decision by the presidential commission, reached after just two weeks, could clear the way for his prosecution.

Headlines

  • Three Al-Jazeera employees — two journalists and their driver — who were abducted last week in Taiz, Yemen, have been released, though it is still unclear who their captors were.

 

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in France today, where he is expected to sign upwards of $3.25 billion in business deals; today he met with French pro-business confederation, Medef, and Prime Minister Manuel Valls before meeting with President François Hollande tomorrow.

 

  • Israel’s Justice Ministry and Shin Bet intelligence agency released their findings on the Jan. 1 attack on a Tel Aviv pub by a gunman, which conclude that the attack was likely inspired by the Islamic State but that it “really was not a classic ISIS terrorist attack.”

 

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has renewed his push for amending the constitution to give more powers to the president and called for the issue to be decided by a popular referendum.

 

  • Sweden will deport between 60,000 and 80,000 asylum seekers this year, nearly half the number that arrived last year, Interior Minister Anders Ygeman announced today.

Arguments and Analysis

Libya, Extremism, and the Consequences of Collapse” (The Soufan Group)

“International military intervention could serve to stabilize the security situation in Libya, and a coalition including the United States, Britain, France, Italy — among others — has reportedly begun to lay the groundwork for such an intervention. However, Western military officials have made it clear that no action will be taken until a legitimate unity government requests foreign assistance. The rejection of the UN-brokered agreement effectively puts the possibility of foreign military intervention on hold, barring a unilateral decision from the international coalition. The continued power struggle in Libya likely means that any Western military coalition will have difficulty identifying effective and reliable partners in the country, and raises real concerns that Western military intervention could exacerbate the internal conflict. There is also a concern that any military intervention will be primarily focused on eliminating the threat from the Islamic State in Libya, while neglecting the broader political and social context.”

 

Turkey Is an Intermittent Ally but an Indispensable Partner“ (Dov Friedman, War on the Rocks)

“Alongside its work with the CIA in Reyhanlı, though, Turkey supports an array of Syrian Salafist and global jihadist groups. As many have documented previously, Turkey continues to support Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and many small groups aligned with those two power players within the jihadist and Salafist camps, respectively. Thus, regarding Syria, the United States and Turkey work as much at cross-purposes as they do together. By avoiding its policy divergences from Ankara, Washington helps protract the status quo in Syria and hinders its own objectives. U.S. policy has not prioritized formal intensive discussions about rebel groups among major state sponsors. The United States itself will not back all groups currently boasting international support, but formalizing a negotiation process among other states that want to see Assad fall and the Islamic State defeated is an essential step toward greater consensus about which groups merit support. Yet recent signs that the United States might formalize conversations about rebel group support send entirely the wrong message.”

-J. Dana Stuster

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