Report

Aid Reaches Daraya But Airdrops Still an Option

A convoy carrying humanitarian aid reached Daraya, a besieged neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, for the first time since 2012 yesterday. However some officials and members of the opposition criticized the effort, saying the convoy was “minimal and contained no urgently needed food,” the New York Times reports. International pressure was mounting on account of an ...

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A convoy carrying humanitarian aid reached Daraya, a besieged neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, for the first time since 2012 yesterday. However some officials and members of the opposition criticized the effort, saying the convoy was “minimal and contained no urgently needed food,” the New York Times reports. International pressure was mounting on account of an ultimatum set by the United Nations that, if the Assad regime did not allow passage of humanitarian supplies by June 1, the World Food Program would begin airdrops to inaccessible populations. Those airdrops remain a possibility, and the United States, Britain, and France have urged the United Nations to proceed with the mission. The U.N. Security Council will meet tomorrow to discuss the issue.

International Concerns about New Offensives Against Islamic State

Iraqi forces near Fallujah are still working to complete their perimeter of the city and they are not ready to push into the city yet. “There’s not much going on — why are you in such a hurry?” an Iraqi military commander told the BBC. Shia militias continue to play an active role in the operation, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Saudi criticisms of Iran’s role in Iraq. “We will leave Iraq whenever Iraq asks us to. And we will help Iraq to confront terrorism, as long as Iraq wants us to,” Zarif said, calling Saudi criticisms of Iraqi affairs “arrogant.” Elsewhere in Iraq, the Islamic State has banned satellite television in Mosul, saying it promotes brainwashing.

In Syria, the High Negotiations Council has asked for clarification about the goals of the Syria Democratic Forces offensive against Islamic State-held territory near Manbij and along the Turkey-Syria border. The SDF is comprised of mostly Kurdish fighters, and the HNC noted that these groups have at times come into conflict with other opposition groups. Turkey has also been vocal in its concerns about the Kurdish element of the U.S.-backed offensive.

Headlines

  • The parties to the civil war in Yemen conducted a prisoner swap, releasing 19 Houthi fighters and 16 members of pro-government militias; the swap was arranged at peace talks being held in Kuwait and is the first major breakthrough in negotiations.

 

  • The German Bundestag, the lower house of the country’s parliament, passed a resolution recognizing the massacre of Armenian civilians in Turkey after World War I as genocide; the vote is expected to strain ties with Turkey, which campaigned vehemently against the resolution.

 

  • A Saudi court sentenced 14 people to death and another nine people to prison for attacks against police in Qatif province; the defendants, all of whom are Shia, were arrested four years ago.

 

  • The Bahraini government charged 18 people with contacting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah with the intent of causing domestic unrest.

 

  • A Palestinian woman was shot and killed when she attacked an Israeli soldier with a knife at a checkpoint in the West Bank; the frequency of attempted attacks has slowed in recent weeks.

 

  • An Iraqi millionaire living in Dubai, Khamis Khanjar, is funding advocacy to create a Sunni autonomous zone in Iraq, including by retaining a Washington, DC-based public relations firm, according to Reuters.

Arguments and Analysis

What to Expect from Jordan’s New Prime Minister” (Curtis R. Ryan, Monkey Cage)

“Unlike many other states in the region, Jordan had no revolution, coup d’état or civil war during the Arab Spring — for which many Jordanians are thankful — but did see a resurgence of activism and protest, especially in 2011 and 2012. Since then, many movements have toned down their own activism in the wake of political violence and turmoil across Jordan’s borders. The regime, meanwhile, initiated a series of top-down reforms meant to defuse tensions within the kingdom. Today, however, the gap between the regime and its diverse forms of opposition remains quite wide, over not only future trajectories but also what exactly happened during Jordan’s version of the Arab Spring. For many in the regime, Jordan serves as a model of a regime reforming itself, changing laws on parties and elections, revising the constitution and opening up the system carefully and gradually. For its critics and activist opponents, these measures are merely cosmetic, not meaningful shifts in Jordan’s palace-centered power structure. Recent changes to the constitution were regarded with alarm in many quarters of Jordanian politics as solidifying monarchical power, rather than pluralism, separation of powers, or checks and balances. In some respects, a new set of elections and a new post-election government might test just where Jordan is in this process.”

 

The Arab City” (Amale Andraos, Places Journal)

“So, if the global practices are creating exemplary architecture for the emerging cities of the Gulf, what then is the problem? One problem is that the mélange of symbols and metaphors — the medina, the oasis, the souk — all too often produces reductive meanings and experiences; it can encourage, albeit unintentionally, the sort of essentialism which, as Edward Said so eloquently argued, is not only offensive in its representations but also instrumental in perpetuating forms of colonialism. An even deeper problem is that the new architecture is too often rooted in pan-Islamic tendencies that blur the distinctions and complexities of situated art and architectural practices. Is it really appropriate, or ‘contextual,’ to use architectural innovations developed in 16th-century Istanbul, during the era when Sinan was chief architect of the Ottoman Empire, and adapt them to the desert cities of Doha or Abu Dhabi, as if these innovations belong to some singular tradition of Islamic architecture, no matter the differences of place and time, politics and economics, technological sophistication and material advancement? All too often an idea of ‘Islamic architecture’ is promoted in an effort to unify a region that extends from Turkey to Syria to Iraq to the Emirates — to advance the strange concept of a cohesive Islamic people, nation, empire. The predictable result is cultural displacement; and arguably even the dystopia of ISIS, which deploys a crudely generalized concept of a mythic Islamic empire — a worldwide caliphate — in an effort to legitimize its brutal tactics. Unsurprisingly, these tactics include the destruction of ancient monuments seen as ‘hybrid’ or impure.”

-J. Dana Stuster

ABD DOUMANY/AFP/Getty Images

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