Airstrikes Increase Civilian Toll in Syria
A series of airstrikes targeted Syrian rebels in Syria over the weekend. It is unclear whether they were carried out by Russian or Syrian jets. At least 21 people, including five children, were killed when a marketplace was bombarded in Idlib, currently held by Jabhat al-Nusra. The town of Maarat al-Numan was also struck, killing ...
A series of airstrikes targeted Syrian rebels in Syria over the weekend. It is unclear whether they were carried out by Russian or Syrian jets. At least 21 people, including five children, were killed when a marketplace was bombarded in Idlib, currently held by Jabhat al-Nusra. The town of Maarat al-Numan was also struck, killing six civilians. On Friday, regime forces attacked the Damascus suburb of Daraya with 68 barrel bombs just hours after allowing food aid to enter the besieged neighborhood for the first time since 2012.
Bomb Targets Lebanese Bank
A bomb exploded at the headquarters of Blom Bank in the Verdun neighborhood of Beirut yesterday evening, wounding two people. No group has claimed the attack yet, but reports have speculated that the bombing could be a response by Hezbollah to the bank’s adherence to the U.S. Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, passed in December, which punishes institutions that facilitate financing for the organization. The Association of Banks in Lebanon convened an emergency meeting today and said the attack was aimed at the entire banking sector with the goal of destabilizing the Lebanese economy.
- Omar Mateen, the gunman who committed a massacre at an Orlando nightclub on Saturday, said he’d pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State in a call to a 911 dispatcher and a radio message from the terrorist group released today called him “one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America,” though there is no evidence yet that Mateen was in direct contact with the group.
- Iraqi forces operating in Fallujah have opened a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to flee the city; 4,000 have fled so far and aid groups, which have revised their estimates of the number of civilians trapped in Fallujah to as many as 90,000, expect thousands more in coming days.
- Bahraini authorities arrested Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, this morning; Rajab has been arrested before but no crimes or charges have been released for his detention.
- Three suspected al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants were killed in what is believed to have been a U.S. drone strike in Shabwa, near the town of Haban.
- A Dutch woman will be fined and deported after a three-month detention for reporting being raped in Qatar; the attacker was sentenced to 140 lashes for extramarital sex and consuming alcohol. (Correction: A previous version of the brief said the rape and prosecution took place in the UAE, where a woman was similarly prosecuted in 2013. This incident took place in Qatar.)
- The U.S. Navy has relieved the commander of the 10 sailors detained by Iranian forces in January of his command and reassigned him, citing a failure to provide leadership that contributed to the incident.
Arguments and Analysis
“The EU, Morocco, and the Western Sahara: a chance for justice” (Vish Sakthivell, European Council on Foreign Relations)
“Morocco must weigh its interests in extraction in fishing, phosphates, and hydrocarbons with the need to win over the hearts of the Saharawi people, and thereby to minimise resistance. As a result, the Moroccan government has undertaken soft efforts to maintain its hold over the region. These include the recent co-option of formerly pro-POLISARIO and/or Saharawi notables through offering them positions such as wali (governor) of mainland Moroccan provinces as well as ministerial portfolios; a development plan for what Morocco calls its southern provinces; and a proposed autonomy plan for the WS region. The development plan put forward by Morocco’s Economic, Social, and Environmental Council (CESE) touts billions of dollars’ worth of investments in developing the region, especially in agriculture, tourism, fishing, and phosphates. As part of the effort to develop the WS, Morocco has built airports, paved highways, and improved electricity infrastructure. Simultaneously, however, Morocco has settled thousands of people from Morocco proper to influence the results of a future referendum and to work on farms, which has also stifled opportunities for Saharawi employment and funnelled returns to the Moroccan business elite and the palace.”
“Three reasons why attacking Egypt’s top auditor is bad news” (Marwa Fatafta, Transparency International)
“The character assassination and prosecution of the head of Egypt’s strongest oversight body is a dangerous step for three reasons. First, it shows yet again that the Egyptian government has no real political will to fight corruption despite previous promises. They should. Egyptian citizens are frustrated with the government’s lack of serious effort to stop the widespread corruption in the country. In a recent survey released in May this year, 58 per cent of Egyptians believe that the government is performing badly on this front. Second, such move deeply undermines the independence of Egypt’s regulatory bodies. The Central Audit Organisation is the strongest watchdog institution in the country and scored the highest among 13 pillars of society studied in Transparency International’s National Integrity System report. The report looked at the strengths and weaknesses of Egypt’s institutions. The strength of the Central Audit Organisation stems from its independence, which is enshrined in the Egyptian constitution. The removal of its head by presidential degree is also an explicit infringement of the constitution. It weakens the organisation’s independence and credibility, and hinders its key function to detect and report corruption. Third, targeting Geneina signals an escalation of a wider suppressive crackdown on Egyptian civil society, activists and concerned citizens. By prosecuting the country’s top anti-corruption fighter for merely doing his job, the Egyptian government is reinforcing its power to limit transparency or accountability to its citizens.”
-J. Dana Stuster
MOHAMED AL-BAKOUR/AFP/Getty Images