Report

Islamic State Kills 120 People in Deadliest Attack in Syrian Civil War

A series of bombings on Sunday claimed by the Islamic State killed more than 120 people at the Sayyida Zeinab shrine south of Damascus. The coordinated blasts were the deadliest single attack in Syria’s five-year-long civil war. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been discussing the terms of a “cessation of hostilities” with Russian ...

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A series of bombings on Sunday claimed by the Islamic State killed more than 120 people at the Sayyida Zeinab shrine south of Damascus. The coordinated blasts were the deadliest single attack in Syria’s five-year-long civil war.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been discussing the terms of a “cessation of hostilities” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov through the weekend and reached a “provisional agreement.” The plan was at one point slated to enter effect last Friday, but key issues, including how to enforce a ceasefire, have yet to be decided and will be discussed between Presidents Obama and Vladimir Putin, Kerry said. Lavrov condemned the Islamic State’s attack on Damascus and bombings in Homs, saying that they were an effort to undermine the diplomatic progress being made.

AQAP Seizes Town, Assassinates Officials in Aden

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula seized the strategic town of Ahwar on Saturday, allowing it to control the road between the cities of Zinjibar and Mukalla, which it already occupies. After taking Ahwar, AQAP fighters killed Sheikh Mazen al-Aqrabi, a leader of the local popular committees that helped oust AQAP from cities in 2012, in Aden. Today, a gunman on a motorcycle also assassinated General Abedrabbo Hussein in Aden; Hussein was the commander of Yemeni military forces in Abyan Province, where AQAP has seized several towns.

Headlines

  • Sunni tribal fighters rebelled against the Islamic State’s occupation in the city of Fallujah on Friday when some took up arms in response to the humiliation of local residents and attacked the local headquarters of the Islamic State’s morality police; Iraqi officials expressed concerns about potential Islamic State reprisals.

 

  • Egyptian author Ahmed Naji was sentenced to two years in prison because an excerpt of his novel, Using Life, that was published in a state-run newspaper contained a sexually explicit passage; Naji was acquitted in January, but prosecutors appealed the decision.

 

  • Turkish forces killed 14 Kurdistan Workers’ Party militants over the weekend in Diyarbakir and Sirnak Province, according to Turkish military officials.

 

  • At a press conference on Sunday, representatives of El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence said they would defy the Egyptian government’s order to close the human rights organization on Monday; the Egyptian government order has drawn strong criticism from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others.

 

  • Despite challenges within his government and almost facing a vote of no confidence last fall, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is reviving his reformist agenda, including anti-corruption measures, and distancing himself from Iran in an effort to win support from the Sunni community.

Arguments and Analysis

‘Using Life’: A Novel Excerpt on Trial in Egypt” (Ahmed Naji, translated by Ben Koerber, Arabic Literature (in English))

“We walked around the streets of Zamalek in the direction of her apartment. She had a thin silver bracelet around her ankle and toenails painted red. Sometimes we would walk hand in hand, and sometimes with my arm around her waist. Under the shade of the trees, we laughed. We shot smiles at the officers standing guard outside different embassies, but their solemn demeanor didn’t change. I thought … Do I love her? Of course I love her. I can’t touch a woman I don’t love. But then, what is love exactly? It’s a relaxing of the heart, a tranquility in your soul, a warmth in your stomach. It’s like any love in Cairo, always ready to disappear.  A lover of companionship. In her apartment, we smoked a joint of hash. I rubbed her knee as she played around on her computer looking for an old Madonna song. I lifted her dress above her knees and slid to the floor. Nestling between her legs, I lifted up her foot and started licking her big toe. I walked my tongue in gentle taps along her leg until I reached her knee, which I pummeled with kisses. ‘It tickles,’ she giggled in English.”

 

The mixed record of Morocco’s February 20 protest movement” (Adria Lawrence, Monkey Cage)

“Five years later, how should we think about the consequences of the Arab Spring for Morocco? Were the Moroccan protests successful? Along a number of dimensions, the answer appears to be yes. First, the February 20thmovement managed to organize sustained, mass mobilization. The protests that began in February reached their peak in April, a remarkable achievement when we consider that the protests in nearby Tunisia crested with the Jan. 14, 2011, overthrow of President Ben Ali, less than a month after the self-immolation of Mohammad Bouazizi triggered the initial Arab Spring protests. Protests in Morocco persisted despite the absence of a dramatic achievement such as regime overthrow. They took place in a country where mass protest had historically been tolerated only when it criticized other states and international actors, not the Moroccan regime itself.”

-J. Dana Stuster

YOUSSEF KARWASHAN/AFP/Getty Images

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