Belgian and French Officials Make Arrests after Brussels Attack

Police in Brussels have carried out raids and arrested seven people they believe are connected to Tuesday’s Islamic State attacks on an airport and subway station. One of the men arrested has been identified as having spoken to the subway bomber; it is not known if the third man seen with the airport bombers is ...


Police in Brussels have carried out raids and arrested seven people they believe are connected to Tuesday’s Islamic State attacks on an airport and subway station. One of the men arrested has been identified as having spoken to the subway bomber; it is not known if the third man seen with the airport bombers is one of the men in custody. Sources close to the investigation believe the attack was originally planned for the day after Easter, but that it was moved up after Salah Abdeslam’s arrest. “He was talking openly to investigators about an attack planned for next Monday,” one police official told BuzzFeed. “Now we suspect that when his attorney announced that he was cooperating with police, it was a warning to the rest of the cell to move up the date of the operation.”

Police in Paris have also made an arrest in what they believe to have been a terrorist plot in its “advanced stages.” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the man, Reda Kriket, had been under surveillance for several weeks before his arrest. Though there is no “tangible evidence” of a link between Kriket and the attacks in Brussels, Cazeneuve said, Kriket had previously been tried and convicted in absentia in Belgium last July with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the leader of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. According to Le Pointe, both men were involved in the Zerkani network, which sent at least 30 foreign fighters from Belgium to Syria.

Syrian Peace Talks Adjourn until April

The latest round of Syrian peace talks concluded yesterday in Geneva after ten days of discussions. The proximity talks — in which the regime and opposition factions never met directly — produced agreement on some key principles and U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, who mediated the discussions, stressed that there were “no breakdowns, no walkouts,” though the regime remains unwilling to discuss a political transition. After meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that both Russia and the United States will encourage participation in continued talks. De Mistura has set April 9 as a tentative date for those discussions to resume. “Next time, we put the principles aside and we look now (to) the political process,” he said.


  • Assad regime forces with Russian air support are continuing their assault on the Islamic State-held city of Palmyra today with exchanges of artillery fire; regime troops reportedly entered the city yesterday but were pushed back.


  • The Egyptian Interior Ministry claims it has recovered a bag belonging to murdered student Giulio Regini during a raid on what authorities say was a criminal gang that impersonated police officers; evidence of torture before Regini’s death has cast suspicion on the Interior Ministry, which has not been cooperative with Italian investigators.


  • Two Palestinians were shot and killed after they attacked an Israel Defense Forces soldier in the West Bank yesterday; one of the IDF soldiers involved was subsequently arrested after a video of the incident appeared to show him executing one of the wounded assailants.


  • The U.N. Human Rights Council decided yesterday to begin keeping a database of companies operating in Israeli settlements, which the Palestinian envoy called a “a message of hope for our people”; Israel’s U.N. ambassador responded by saying the database was a “blacklist” and that the council was an “anti-Israel circus.”


  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in Pakistan today for a two-day trip in which he is expected to discuss a controversial oil pipeline that would transit Pakistan to India as well as the Iranian rivalry with Saudi Arabia; it is Rouhani’s first visit to Pakistan as president.

Arguments and Analysis

Does Engineering Education Breed Terrorists?” (Dan Berrett, Chronicle of Higher Education)

“The question then becomes: Why? What makes engineering unique? Gambetta and Hertog’s first explanation is sociological. When people’s hopes for individual and social advancement are raised and then dashed, a dynamic called relative deprivation can occur. People who experience relative deprivation don’t need to be objectively disadvantaged; they must simply feel they’ve been denied their due. The theory makes intuitive sense for engineers in developing countries, where the programs’ graduates enjoy high social status. Instead of finding lucrative careers, however, they often encounter limited job prospects in sclerotic economies. The gap between expectations and opportunities can come to feel galling, perhaps even humiliating. Hell hath no fury like a frustrated elite.”


Growing Stress on Jordan” (Robert Satloff and David Schenker, Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

“Jordan’s stability is a high priority for the United States. It is a main partner in fighting the Islamic State, in confronting Iranian expansionism, and in supporting a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Jordan’s quiet cooperation with its treaty partner, Israel, is a plus for U.S. regional interests. Domestic instability in Jordan — especially turmoil that threatens the leadership status quo — would endanger these important U.S. interests. Mounting pressures on Jordan’s meager resources from refugees — as well as corresponding austerity measures — could feed destabilizing anti-regime sentiment. Although Islamic State-inspired terrorist attacks in the kingdom would likely produce a rally-around-the-flag effect, security incidents could further damage an already strained economy. Any further flow of refugees could tip the scales, triggering a crisis — potentially from malcontents among the refugee population and/or from disaffected Jordanians.”

-J. Dana Stuster


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