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Saudi Arabia to Scale Back War in Yemen
The Saudi-led intervention force in Yemen will scale back their involvement in the country’s conflict, Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri said yesterday. Though Saudi Arabia will continue to provide air support to forces fighting the allied forces of the Houthis and ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, it will reduce its ground presence to “small” ...
The Saudi-led intervention force in Yemen will scale back their involvement in the country’s conflict, Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri said yesterday. Though Saudi Arabia will continue to provide air support to forces fighting the allied forces of the Houthis and ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, it will reduce its ground presence to “small” teams with a training and advisory role. “We are in the end of a major combat phase,” Asiri told AFP.
The U.S. government, which has provided logistical and targeting support for the Saudi intervention, welcomed the announcement. “We have expressed our concerns about the loss of innocent life in Yemen, the violence there that is plaguing that country has caught too many innocent civilians in the crossfire,” White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said yesterday, noting the recent border ceasefire as a sign of progress and pressing for a return to U.N.-brokered peace talks. “We have long made the case that Yemen is in dire need of a political solution, and that that political solution needs to come as soon as possible,” he said.
U.S. Citizen Captured by Kurds Interviewed about Time in Islamic State
Mohamad Jamal Khweis, a U.S. citizen captured by Kurdish peshmerga while defecting from the Islamic State, told Kurdish media in an interview that he made a “bad decision” and wants to return to the United States. In the interview, he describes his trip to the join the Islamic State and says he realized he wanted to leave soon after the group’s indoctrination training began. “My message to the American people is the life in Mosul, it’s really, really bad,” he said. “Daesh, ISIS, ISIL, they don’t represent the religion.”
- European Union diplomats reached a consensus on their proposal yesterday and today will present the agreement to manage refugee flows to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a meeting in Brussels.
- Militants attacked an Algerian oil installation with several rocket-propelled grenades; no casualties or damage to the facility were reported, but it has been closed as a security precaution.
- The former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, is traveling to Dubai to seek medical treatment; Musharraf was previously banned from traveling as part of a trial for treason and though he reportedly said he would return to Pakistan in 4-6 weeks, some find that doubtful.
- A court in Cairo has reopened a 2011 case against Hossam Bahgat, the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and Gamal Eid, of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, regarding foreign funding of their non-governmental organizations.
- Republicans in the U.S. Senate introduced new sanctions legislation in response to recent Iranian missile tests; the bill would impose “stricter sanctions on every sector of Iran’s economy that supports the country’s ballistic missile program,” the Associated Press reports.
Arguments and Analysis
“The Human Cost of the PKK Conflict in Turkey: The Case of Sur” (International Crisis Group)
“The only way toward a durable solution is peace talks with the PKK accompanied, on a separate track, by ensuring further democratic rights for Turkey’s Kurdish population, including full mother tongue education, further decentralisation, a lower electoral threshold for parties to enter parliament and an ethnically neutral constitution. But the immediate priority is to manage the situation to prevent more casualties and displacement. In the short term, Ankara should create a solid legal basis for further curfews, focusing on practices that limit civilian casualties and human rights abuses, and holding security forces accountable for breaches. It must ensure that human rights violations are addressed by due process, reconstruction does not disenfranchise property owners and tenants displaced by fighting, and those who wish to can return to their homes.”
“Why the United States hasn’t intervened in Syria” (Steven Heydemann, Monkey Cage)
“An intellectually honest critique of Obama’s Syria policy has to acknowledge the legitimacy of his skepticism and the validity of the lessons he has drawn from the experiences of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Too often, U.S. interventions have not been effective. In many cases they have done more harm than good. The United States does regime change badly. Why should Syria be different? Certainly, Syria bears some resemblance to Iraq and Afghanistan, but the differences are significant, as well. Unlike Syria, neither Iraq nor Afghanistan experienced a national uprising that sought a peaceful process of political transition. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States achieved regime change through direct military interventions. In Syria, ‘boots on the ground’ in the sense of a large-scale U.S. military presence has never been a serious option. American intervention has never been sought by the Syrian opposition or recommended by credible voices in the United States. Syrian opposition activists have requested U.S. support, not participation in combat operations.”
-J. Dana Stuster
AHMAD AL-BASHA/AFP/Getty Images