Islamic State Continues String of Suicide Bombings in Iraq
The Islamic State launched a flurry of attacks over the weekend, including more bombings in Iraq. On Friday, gunmen attacked a group of soccer fans in the Shia town of Balad and then bombed a nearby market. The attack killed 16 people and led to reprisals by the Badr Organization. On Sunday, the Islamic State ...
The Islamic State launched a flurry of attacks over the weekend, including more bombings in Iraq. On Friday, gunmen attacked a group of soccer fans in the Shia town of Balad and then bombed a nearby market. The attack killed 16 people and led to reprisals by the Badr Organization. On Sunday, the Islamic State carried out four more bombings, three in Baghdad and one in the town of Latifah. The group also conducted a large, coordinated attack involving multiple bombs targeting a natural gas plant in Taji. The Iraqi military launched an operation today to retake the town of al-Rutbah, in Anbar province.
Turkish artillery and coalition jets bombarded Islamic State positions in Syria near the Turkish town of Kilis, which has been the target of repeated shelling by terrorists, causing many residents and Syrian refugees in the city to flee. Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, said that the terrorist group is losing territory and that its major cities, Mosul and Raqqa, are coming under increasing pressure.
Diplomats to Meet in Vienna to Discuss Options to Aid Libya
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers from Europe and the Middle East will meet in Vienna today to discuss plans to assist the U.N.-backed Libyan government, particularly in its fight against the Islamic State. That government, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, is expected to submit a request for arms, training, and intelligence support to the meeting for consideration. On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Aguila Saleh, the leader of Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament, for stalling efforts to integrate the parliament with Sarraj’s Government of National Accord.
- Hezbollah announced on Saturday that Mustafa Badreddine, widely believed to be the group’s top military commander, was killed by artillery shelling by Sunni rebels in Syria and not by an Israeli airstrike as was first reported; the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cast doubt on this, noting that there was no apparent shelling in the area where Badreddine was killed at the time of his death.
- Two Egyptian courts sentenced 152 people who protested President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia to two to five years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines; approximately 400 other demonstrators are awaiting trial.
- The weekend saw deadly attacks in the Yemeni city of Mukalla, which until recently was occupied by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: a suicide bombing struck a security headquarters today and yesterday a bomber targeted a group of men at a police recruitment center, killing 31 people.
- The Turkish military carried out strikes against PKK militants yesterday that killed 22 people, mostly near the Turkey-Iran border.
- The Iranian government announced a new crackdown targeting women who do not cover their hair when modeling, particularly on the image-sharing app Instagram.
Arguments and Analysis
“How Russia allowed homegrown radicals to go and fight in Syria” (Maria Tsvetkova, Reuters)
“Four years ago, Saadu Sharapudinov was a wanted man in Russia. A member of an outlawed Islamist group, he was hiding in the forests of the North Caucasus, dodging patrols by paramilitary police and plotting a holy war against Moscow. Then his fortunes took a dramatic turn. Sharapudinov, 38, told Reuters that in December 2012 Russian intelligence officers presented him with an unexpected offer. If he agreed to leave Russia, the authorities would not arrest him. In fact, they would facilitate his departure. ‘I was in hiding, I was part of an illegal armed group, I was armed,’ said Sharapudinov during an interview in a country outside Russia. Yet he says the authorities cut him a deal. ‘They said: “We want you to leave.”’ Sharapudinov agreed to go. A few months later, he was given a new passport in a new name, and a one-way plane ticket to Istanbul. Shortly after arriving in Turkey, he crossed into Syria and joined an Islamist group that would later pledge allegiance to radical Sunni group Islamic State.”
“Iraq: On the Edge of Chaos” (Maria Fantapple, In Pursuit of Peace)
“External pressure will be key in determining power shifts within party leaderships. The breakdown of the post-2003 order would pose a challenge for the Iranians as much as for the Americans. After the recent crisis, the U.S. and Iran have already moved in the same direction because both have an interest in preventing the complete unravelling of the country. Over the past decade, the U.S. has competed with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq within a shared framework of parties and institutions. Now that this system is starting to collapse, the challenge for both powers is to find the right partners to help protect and project their influence. It is this external pressure that could induce new domestic agreements and power shifts among parties’ leaderships, and thereby perhaps dramatically reshape the post-2003 political system.”
-J. Dana Stuster
SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images