Report

Death Toll Rises to 41 after Bombings at Istanbul Airport

Three suicide bombers attacked Ataturk airport in Istanbul last night, killing at least 41 people and wounding more than 230 others. At least one of the attackers opened fire on bystanders with an assault rifle before detonating his explosives, and video being reviewed by authorities shows some of the attackers being confronted by security guards ...

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Three suicide bombers attacked Ataturk airport in Istanbul last night, killing at least 41 people and wounding more than 230 others. At least one of the attackers opened fire on bystanders with an assault rifle before detonating his explosives, and video being reviewed by authorities shows some of the attackers being confronted by security guards before the blasts. Though most of the dead are Turkish, 13 of the victims were foreign nationals. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told press that initial findings from the investigation suggest the Islamic State is responsible. “This attack, targeting innocent people is a vile, planned terrorist act,” he said.

Nations around the world have expressed their condolences for the attack and solidarity in efforts to fight terrorism. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to call Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today after issuing a statement; it will be the first time the two leaders have spoken since diplomatic relations were severed seven months ago.

Iraqi Forces Advancing North toward Strategic Airbase

Iraqi forces advancing north from Bayji captured the town of Telol al-Baj yesterday and are approaching the the airbase at Qayara, which is seen as a strategic position for the upcoming assault on Mosul. The Iraqi advance has been protected by U.S. airstrikes, which have targeted car bombs being sent by the Islamic State before they reach Iraqi troops. Many of the Islamic State militant have retreated, but an Iraqi advance on Qayara from the east has encountered stronger resistance. Fourteen people were killed in a suicide bombing west of Baghdad on Monday, in Abu Ghraib. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but reports noted that the bombing targeted a Sunni mosque, which be uncharacteristic of the Islamic State.

Headlines

  • U.S.-backed Syrian rebels belonging to the New Syrian Army coalition seized Hamdan airbase and several towns on the Syrian side of the the Iraq-Syria border after launching a new effort yesterday to secure southern portions of the border occupied by the Islamic State.

 

  • Food and medical aid was allowed to enter the besieged towns of Zamalka and Erbin, near Damascus, for the first time since 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross reports.

 

  • Jordan has expanded its crackdown and arrests of suspected Islamic State militants and hundreds have now been sentenced or are awaiting trial, the Associated Press reports.

 

  • The Egyptian government placed Mozn Hassan, the director of Nazra for Feminist Studies, an organization promoting women’s rights, under a travel ban when she tried to fly to Beirut on Monday to attend a conference of advocates of women’s rights.

 

  • The Algerian government arrested two members of the staff at the television station KBC responsible for producing two new satirical programs that premiered this month and have addressed political subjects; the Committee to Protect Journalists issues a statement saying it is “alarmed” by the arrests.

Arguments and Analysis

Islam and Liberalism” (Hassan Abbas, Keith Ellison, Asra Q. Nomani, and Ani Zonneveld, Democracy Journal)

“Where Islam gets a little unfair treatment globally is where we always think of Muslim practices in a present international context and immediately see it as a reflection of all Islam. The fair treatment would be that religion is compared to religions. And practice of course, in a certain context, is seen as a product of politics and culture. The modern idea of a state as we see today — whether it is progressivism, liberalism, democracy — this is a post-World War II construct. Muslims who had a great legacy of empires, with great contributions to arts, sciences, civilization, I mean ask anyone who’s into hard sciences, even in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in modern Western universities, the hard science subjects were taught with textbooks by Muslims. However, the Muslim world went through a sharp decline after their empires collapsed. So the Muslim challenge is to adjust to modernity. It’s a new world where power resides elsewhere but in some cases Muslim are stuck in a glorious past. For Muslims, the modern world is an imposed reality. They are trying to figure out what it is. So that’s their tragedy.”

 

Turkey’s Digital Divides” (Max Hoffman, Center for American Progress)

“But Turkey’s challenge of providing more internet accessibility at more affordable prices — a key step to becoming a full-fledged developed democratic nation and a new member of the European Union — faces obstacles that are particular to Turkey’s political economy. The ruling Justice and Development Party — more commonly referred to by its Turkish acronym, AKP — must calculate the political gains and losses of more widespread internet access, particularly for those conservative working-class rural voters who are the backbone of its political strength. In some ways, Turkey’s digital divide is just fine with the AKP and its de facto leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, because it gives the government greater control of the information flowing to its most important constituencies. But in other ways, the government recognizes the costs and consequences of Turkey’s digital divide and is actively seeking to bridge the gaps. The question is whether the nation can achieve this transformation and broaden access to the internet and its associated benefits despite the likelihood that this process would loosen the governing authorities’ control over online information that it wants to suppress.”

-J. Dana Stuster

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