Task Force to Meet to Discuss Syria Ceasefire Violations
A ceasefire among many of the warring parties in Syria’s civil war largely held through the weekend. A number of violations have been reported, but the United Nations announced today that it is confident enough in the security situation to dispatch humanitarian aid convoys to six towns this week. An international task force will meet ...
A ceasefire among many of the warring parties in Syria’s civil war largely held through the weekend. A number of violations have been reported, but the United Nations announced today that it is confident enough in the security situation to dispatch humanitarian aid convoys to six towns this week. An international task force will meet this afternoon to discuss reported breaches of the agreement. “We need to get an explanation from the Russians on the strikes that took place on Sunday,” one Western diplomat told Reuters, discussing the resumption of Russian airstrikes on Sunday after a one-day suspension of its air campaign. The Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee has submitted a letter in which it notes that violations occurred “here and there,” but that said that, with the easing of violence over the weekend, it was “positive to see people getting relief…to be safe, and free from fear.” U.N.-backed peace talks between the parties to the conflict are set to resume on March 7.
Moderates and Reformists See Gains in Iranian Elections
Preliminary results from Iran’s elections look good for Iran’s moderate and reformist blocs despite many candidates being disqualified in the run-up to election day. Moderates and reformists swept the 30 parliamentary seats allocated to Tehran and captured all but one of the capital’s seats on the Assembly of Experts. Hardliners are expected to maintain a majority in the parliament, but reacted anxiously to the early results, decrying reformist gains as the result of “foreign interference.” More than 30 million Iranians voted on Friday and polls were kept open late to allow for long lines.
- At least 73 people have died from a pair of bombings that struck the Mredi marketplace in the Shia-populated Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq; the Islamic State has claimed credit for the attacks.
- Yemeni militiamen and soldiers engaged in a firefight outside the presidential palace in Aden after the militia was denied an audience to discuss the payment of medical bills for men wounded in an Islamic State attack on the compound last month.
- The governor of Lebanon’s central bank has urged politicians to end a diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia, but Hezbollah signaled over the weekend that no apology would be forthcoming and that it will not condemn the storming of the Saudi embassy in Iran.
- Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threw his support behind Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s stalled anti-corruption reforms at a rally in Baghdad on Friday, calling on his supporters to take back the government if Abadi cannot act.
- Border police are engaged in clashes with refugees that broke down fences trying to cross from Greece into Macedonia; Greek and Macedonian forces have responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
Arguments and Analysis
“A New Libya, with ‘Very Little Time Left’” (Scott Shane and Jo Becker, New York Times)
“A cynical line would begin to circulate in Washington: In Iraq, the United States had intervened and occupied — and things had gone to hell. In Libya, the United States had intervened but not occupied — and things had gone to hell. And in Syria, the United States had neither intervened nor occupied — and things had still gone to hell. It was a dark jest designed to shift blame from baffled American policy makers to a troubled region. But it raised a serious question about Libya: If overthrowing a hated dictator in a small and relatively rich country produced such epic troubles, was American intervention ever justified? ‘It’s true that things went wrong,’ said Mr. Sagezli, of the warriors commission. ‘But from a Libyan point of view, things could not go right. We had 42 years of Qaddafi’s rule, no infrastructure, a terrible education system, thousands of political prisoners, divisions among tribes, destruction of the army. When you have such a state, when you take out the dictator, it’s like taking the cover off the pot.’”
“Iraq’s popular demobilisation” (Michael Knights, Al-Jazeera)
“On June 10, 2014, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa that established a collective responsibility for all Iraqis to fight ISIL forces, authorising a popular mobilisation of as many fighters as were needed for as long as was needed to fend off the threat. A Prime Minister’s Commission of the Hashd al-Shaabi was established at the same time to give institutional form to the popular mobilisation and formal status within the Iraqi security forces (ISF). Led by forceful politicians with military backgrounds such as Badr Organisation leader Hadi al-Amiri and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the PMU initially played key roles in the protection of Samarra, Baghdad and Karbala; in the relief of the siege of Amerli; in the liberation of Jurf al-Sakr and the protection of pilgrim routes; and in the clearing of ISIL from large swaths of Diyala. As the ISIL threat to overrun Iraq’s majority Shia areas has receded, the PMU has begun to fragment.”
-J. Dana Stuster
SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AFP/Getty Images