Report

‘Cessation of Hostilities’ Set to Take Effect in Syria

A “cessation of hostilities” in Syria negotiated by the United States, Russia, and other nations last week is set to enter effect today. The plan, which officials have stopped short of calling a ceasefire, will be to freeze fighting between designated parties to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid while diplomats continue to work towards ...

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A “cessation of hostilities” in Syria negotiated by the United States, Russia, and other nations last week is set to enter effect today. The plan, which officials have stopped short of calling a ceasefire, will be to freeze fighting between designated parties to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid while diplomats continue to work towards the resumption of peace talks. The cessation of hostilities does not include groups that the United Nations has designated as terrorists, meaning that strikes targeting Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State will continue.

In public statements, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned that he does not think any international agreement can stop the war, and many analysts are skeptical of what U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura called a “test” for slowing the conflict. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement that U.S.-Russian military coordination is a good sign, and yesterday U.S. defense officials acknowledged that they and Russian officials have been notifying each other of where their military personnel are operating in Syria to prevent errant strikes that could escalate conflict. “I hope that this will enable us at least to agree as a first step on measures to protect the civilian population,” Steinmeier said.

U.S. Airstrike in Libya Targets Islamic State’s Tunisian Operations

A U.S. airstrike targeting a senior Islamic State agent destroyed a building in Sabratha, Libya, early this morning, killing at least 41 people. The main target of the strike was Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian terrorist tied to the attacks at the Bardo museum in Tunis and at a resort in Sousse last year. U.S. officials identified the area as an Islamic State camp and said more than 30 militants were killed. The mayor of Sabratha, Hussein al-Thwadi, told Reuters the target was a building where “foreign workers” were living.

Headlines

  • Doctors without Borders will no longer distribute the GPS coordinates of its hospitals to the Syrian and Russian governments after a series of airstrikes that appear to have deliberately targeted their medical facilities; “The normalisation of such attacks is intolerable,” the organization’s international president said.

 

  • A Palestinian man stabbed two Israeli policemen near the Old Gate in Jerusalem before being shot and killed today; yesterday, two 14-year-old Palestinian boys stabbed an Israeli to death at a supermarket in the West Bank.

 

  • Responding to reports that Russia is mulling the sale of Sukhoi Su-30SM multi-role fighter jets to Iran, the U.S. State Department noted yesterday that the sale of conventional arms to Iran without U.N. Security Council approval remains banned for the next five years.

 

  • U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria targeting the Islamic State’s cash reserves have destroyed more than $500 million that the terrorist group was keeping on hand in the form of hard currency, according to U.S. officials.

 

  • Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition against four Islamic State-occupied towns in northeastern Syria killed nine Islamic State fighters, but also at least 15 civilians, including three children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Arguments and Analysis

Five Years Later, Libya Is Becoming a Jihadist Academy” (Hassan Hassan, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy)

“The fight against IS must be led by Libyans, and the formation of a national unity government is an opportunity to help them do so. Such support should come in two stages. Even if a full-fledged campaign against the Islamic State is delayed, a new government should be given time to operate and endure before full force is diverted to combating the group. At this stage, support for nationalist forces currently combating the Islamic State should begin immediately as fighters are losing morale amid political bickering. There is, admittedly, a real risk is that arbitrary support will strengthen militias, undermine any formed government, and deepen the crisis. A balance should be struck between empowering militias or individuals and waiting until a sufficient measure of national unity is achieved. There are enough forces willing to fight the Islamic State as part of a national army; the key issue has been politicking among the military leadership and interference from abroad. To that end, support for anti-IS forces should increase as those groups meet political milestones.”

 

Why the managed transition after Yemen’s uprising led to war” (Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Monkey Cage)

“Yet the transitional agreement invested in precisely that partisan political class, crafting a transitional government composed of members of the former ruling party and a handful of allied opposition parties known as the Joint Meeting Parties. This left the bulk of the population unrepresented, with ‘outreach’ efforts mandated by the transitional framework only partially and imperfectly undertaken. The parties, for their part, created more distance between themselves and their members by suspending internal democratic practices when their constituents wanted more accountability. Major insurgent and secessionist groups were left out of the new governing coalition, and the security-sector reforms necessary to successfully combat violent challenges to the transition were late arriving and similarly incomplete. The National Dialogue Conference played a pivotal role, both signaling Yemen’s political unraveling and contributing to it.”

-J. Dana Stuster

GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images

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