Report

Hollande Ties Attack in Nice to Fight against Islamic State

A Tunisian-born French citizen has been identified as the attacker to drove a truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day along a beachfront promenade in Nice, France, last night. Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel has a record of petty crimes but was not on any terrorist watchlist. He was shot and killed by police after ...

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A Tunisian-born French citizen has been identified as the attacker to drove a truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day along a beachfront promenade in Nice, France, last night. Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel has a record of petty crimes but was not on any terrorist watchlist. He was shot and killed by police after leaving at least 84 people dead. Authorities found explosives in the truck but they were not used in the attack. No group has claimed credit for the attack and Bouhlel has no known affiliation with terrorist organizations, but authorities in France and across Europe are increasing security out of concern that the attack was not the work of a lone wolf.

In his remarks after the massacre, French President Francois Hollande tied the attack to France’s involvement in the war against the Islamic State in Syria. “Nothing will lead us to give in, to give up our fight against terrorism. We will continue to reinforce our actions in Syria and Iraq,” he said. “We will continue to strike those who are attacking us on our own soil.” The French government will vote next week on whether to extend the national state of emergency by another three months.

Large Pro-reform Protests Return in Baghdad

Thousands of Iraqis rallied by Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gathered in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, today to call for government reforms. Sadr’s pro-reform protests had mostly subsided over the past month, during and after Iraqi operations to retake Fallujah from the Islamic State, but popular anger in response to recent security breaches and terrorist attacks has been building. The Iraqi military had warned against the rally, saying that it was unauthorized and may be treated as a “terrorist threat,” but no efforts were made to disperse the protest.

Headlines

  • Speaking to press yesterday after their meeting to discuss a proposal for increased cooperation in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin said they were hopeful about reaching an agreement; a Kremlin spokesman said later that the subject of direct military cooperation was not discussed.

 

  • A car bomb targeted a convoy carrying the governor of Aden, Yemen, and the local security chief; no casualties have been reported and no group has claimed credit for the attack.

 

  • The Kuwaiti government issued a decree yesterday setting a minimum wage for domestic servants and requiring overtime pay and vacation allowances; it is the first legally binding pay regulation for domestic servants to be enacted in a Gulf country.

 

  • After reaching an agreement to re-unify the Libyan National Oil Corporation earlier this month, the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord is now working to reopen four oil ports at Es Sidra, Zawiya, Ras Lanouf, and Zueitina.

 

  • Peace talks between the warring factions in Yemen’s civil war will resume tomorrow in Kuwait after a nearly month-long hiatus.

Arguments and Analysis

To really capitalize on the Iran deal’s successes, Washington and Tehran need to move beyond it” (Suzanne Maloney, Markaz)

“The durability of the bilateral estrangement, and the perpetuation of mutual mistrust and antipathy, underscores one important truth about the JCPOA, which has been wielded by both its defenders and its detractors in varying contexts: the Iran nuclear deal was transactional, not transformational. As President Barack Obama repeatedly insisted, the accord addressed one specific problem, and in those narrow terms, it can be judged a relative success. The value of that relative success should not be underestimated; amidst the turbulence and tragedy that has beset the Middle East today, the absence of an agreement constraining Iran’s nuclear capabilities would magnify the risks in a terrible way. But in the United States, in Iran, and across the Middle East, the agreement has always been viewed through a much broader lens — as a waystation toward Iranian-American rapprochement, as an instrument for addressing the vicious cycle of sectarian violence that threatens to consume the region, as a boost to the greater cause of moderation and democratization in Iran. And so the failure of the deal to catalyze greater cooperation from Iran on a range of other priorities — Syria, Yemen, Iraq, to name a few — or to jumpstart improvements in Iran’s domestic dynamics cannot be disregarded simply because it was not its original intent. The “new normal” of regularized diplomatic contact between Washington and Tehran is a net positive, but it has not paid any obvious dividends yet.”

 

Asad’s Broken Base: The Case of Idlib” (Aron Lund, The Century Foundation)

“Ultimately, Assad’s ambition to restore the pre-2011 status quo ante runs up against the enormous changes wrought by the war. In many areas, the Syrian president was able to offset his manpower shortage only by relying on local actors with decades-old ties to his regime. Where the insurgents have gained ground, these supporters have largely disappeared: some have switched sides, others have fled or been killed. Old relationships and networks that used to benefit the government have been shattered beyond repair. This policy brief examines the northwestern provincial capital of Idlib — alongside jihadi-controlled Raqqa, it is the most important city captured by the insurgency so far — to explore how Assad previously managed to rule it by entrusting security tasks to local proxies, and why that may no longer be possible.”

-J. Dana Stuster

VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

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