Deadly Bombings Hit Baghdad and Saudi Arabia

A series of deadly attacks struck Iraq and Saudi Arabia over the weekend. In Baghdad, at least 175 people were killed in the Karada neighborhood when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives amid crowds of people celebrating Ramadan early on Sunday morning. Iraqi officials say some people remain missing and that the death toll could ...


A series of deadly attacks struck Iraq and Saudi Arabia over the weekend. In Baghdad, at least 175 people were killed in the Karada neighborhood when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives amid crowds of people celebrating Ramadan early on Sunday morning. Iraqi officials say some people remain missing and that the death toll could continue to grow; at least one official has said at least 215 people were killed. A second bombing later in the day killed one person and wounded five others in the Shaab neighborhood of Baghdad. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has responded by calling for increased security screening at public places and ordered police to stop using fraudulent bomb detectors.

Militants attacked three targets in Saudi Arabia on Monday. An attack near the U.S. consulate building in Jiddah was stopped when the bomber, identified by Saudi authorities as Abdullah Qalzar Khan, a Pakistani national, detonated his explosives prematurely after drawing attention from security officials. Later in the day, a second bomber attacked a car park at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, killing four Saudi security guards. The mosque, which includes the tomb of Mohammed and many of his companions, is one of the holiest sites for Muslims. A third attack struck the city of Qatif, which has a large Shia population, but no injuries have been reported. Though no group has taken credit for the bombings, the Islamic State, which has encouraged its followers to escalate their attacks during Ramadan, is believed to be responsible.

Turkey Continues Arrests for Airport Attacks

The Turkish government arrested another 17 people today in connection to the attacks on a major airport in Istanbul last week, bringing the total number of people in jail awaiting trial to 30. At least 11 of the people arrested today have been identified as foreigners and Turkish authorities say that many of the individuals are from Russia and several Central Asian nations. They face charges of being a member of a terrorist group, though several who have appeared in court have denied being members of the Islamic State or knowing the bombers.


  • The first shipment of humanitarian aid from Turkey to Gaza under a new arrangement with Israel arrived in Ashdod and was carried into Gaza by a convoy supervised by the Turkish Red Crescent Society.


  • Syrian rebels, including Jabhat al-Nusra, retook the town of Kansaba, in Latakia near the Syria-Turkey border, on Friday; the town was captured by Russian-backed Assad regime forces in February.


  • U.S. and Iraqi forces disagreed over strikes on a large column of Islamic State vehicles fleeing Fallujah last week, with U.S. forces concerned that there could be large numbers of civilians in the convoy.


  • The Israeli military struck two Syrian military targets in the Golan Heights in retaliation for stray fire that damaged the perimeter fence along the Syrian border.


  • Switzerland scrambled F-18 fighter jets to escort an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv after the airline received a bomb threat; the plane landed in Israel without incident.


  • Hungary’s government, encouraged by the British referendum to leave the European Union, has announced that it will hold a referendum in October on whether or not to accept the EU plan for refugee resettlement; Hungary has resisted the influx of refugees, many of whom are fleeing the Syrian civil war.

Arguments and Analysis

Netanyahu vs. the Generals” (Amir Tibon, Politico Magazine)

“By placing the hawkish Lieberman in the Defense Ministry, Netanyahu has seriously undercut the security establishment, the most important moderating force within Israel’s power structure. Lieberman’s predecessor, Lt. General (ret.) Moshe Ya’alon, was also affiliated with the right wing in Israel (he is still a registered member of the Likud party), but as a former general himself, he encouraged those serving under him to speak their minds freely and openly, even if their analysis contradicted that of the elected government. In the months leading to his removal from the Defense Ministry, Ya’alon gave backing to the IDF senior command on a number of occasions in which the generals clashed with other cabinet members from the right wing, mainly over the question of how much force Israel should use in retaliation to Palestinian terror attacks. Lieberman, who was still in opposition in parliament during that period, took the side of the most extremist ministers in the government, advocating policies that, if implemented, would highly increase the likelihood of war. Now the next U.S. administration will find itself facing a new balance of power in Israel, between the most right-wing government in decades and the traditionally more moderate security establishment — one in which the extremists, at least for the moment, have triumphed.”


‘Torture Was My Punishment’: Abductions, Torture and Summary Killings Under Armed Group Rule in Aleppo and Idleb, Syria” (Amnesty International)

“The cases of abduction, torture and summary killings documented by Amnesty International offer a glimpse into the reality of life under armed opposition groups in Aleppo and Idleb governorates. Civilians who live under constant threat of indiscriminate attack by government forces simply for living in areas controlled by armed groups have suffered abuse at the hands of these groups as they assert their authority through rough ‘justice’ and cruel punishments. Media activists, journalists, lawyers, humanitarian workers and others have been subjected to abduction and torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of armed groups that form part of the Army of Conquest and Aleppo Conquest coalitions. Residents of Aleppo and Idleb have also witnessed the summary killing by Jabhat al-Nusra and the al-Shamia Front of civilians and captured members of Syrian government armed forces and security forces, and of pro-government shabiha militias, as well as persons suspected of being ‘infiltrators’, fighters belonging to IS and other rival armed groups. These and many of the other serious abuses against captives, many committed through an arbitrary quasi-judicial apparatus, are war crimes. Those who order or commit such acts must be brought to justice. These abuses have taken place in a context in which armed opposition groups across Syria have committed war crimes by killing and injuring civilians through the indiscriminate use of weapons such as mortars, improvised explosive devices and suicide car bombs in attacks on residential areas under government control. No matter how systematic and widespread the violations being committed by Syrian government forces and IS are, war crimes are never excusable.”

-J. Dana Stuster


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