Report

Turkey Shutters Dozens of News Outlets

The Turkish government ordered the closure of 131 media outlets; the decree primarily targets provincial newspapers, but will also shutter some prominent national newspapers. Among those being closed are the Cihan news agency, a Kurdish television station, the opposition paper Taraf, and the Zaman newspapers, which are associated with the Gulenist movement. The government will ...

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The Turkish government ordered the closure of 131 media outlets; the decree primarily targets provincial newspapers, but will also shutter some prominent national newspapers. Among those being closed are the Cihan news agency, a Kurdish television station, the opposition paper Taraf, and the Zaman newspapers, which are associated with the Gulenist movement. The government will meet with military leaders today to discuss a purge of almost half of the country’s flag officers. Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s energy minister and the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told reporters that the government had been planning to reform the military leadership before the coup, which some analysts have noted supports the theory that the coup was a hastily implemented effort to preempt a planned purge. New tourism figures show that tourism declined precipitously in June, dropping 40 percent from the previous year in the wake of a series of terrorist attacks. The failed coup and subsequent purges are likely to further contribute to this trend.

Al-Qaeda Grants Permission to Jabhat al-Nusra to Rebrand

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri issued an audio statement in which he said Jabhat al-Nusra, the terrorist network’s Syrian affiliate, could sever ties with al-Qaeda without penalty if it becomes an obstacle to continuing their operations. “You can sacrifice without hesitation these organizational and party ties if they conflict with your unity and working as one body,” he said. With recent discussions of U.S.-Russian cooperation to target Nusra, there has been growing speculation that the group may break with al-Qaeda in an attempt to make itself more palatable to domestic and foreign supporters of the Syrian rebels.

Assad Offers Amnesty to Rebels

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a presidential decree granting amnesty to all rebels who surrender or free prisoners and Russia says it is working to establish humanitarian corridors to allow civilians and rebels to flee besieged neighborhoods of Aleppo. Human rights advocates expressed concern that the implementation of the decree could be monitored or enforced. The conciliatory rhetoric comes as U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura works to arrange a new round of peace talks, which he says are expected to begin at the end of August.

Headlines

  • The United Nations called for a humanitarian pause in the fighting in Yemen, especially near Taiz, after allegations of war crimes were made regarding pro-government forces’ recent seizure of the town of al-Sarari.

 

  • Bahrain will proceed to trial next month with a case that accuses 138 people of involvement in a plot by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to set up a terrorist cell in the country.

 

  • Coptic Christians in Egypt are pushing for legislation that would govern the construction of churches and mosques; Copts have had difficulty obtaining government permits even to just rebuild churches attacked by extremists.

 

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded to outrage over a spate of recent terrorist attacks in the country, saying that Germany’s policy on resettling refugees will not change but that the country “will take the challenge of integration very seriously.”

 

  • Iran announced that it will hold next year’s presidential election on May 19; though no candidates have been announced, incumbent Hassan Rouhani is expected to run for re-election.

Arguments and Analysis

United Arab Emigrants” (Sultan Al Qassemi, Medium)

“For the past century immigrants came to the emirates from all over and naturalised as citizens of the UAE including South Asia such as photographer Noor Ali Rashid (who was born in 1929 in Gwadar in what is now Pakistan), Westerners such as British born journalist Peter Hellyer as well as Baluch, inner Arabian Peninsula Arabs and Ajam and Arabs from Southern Persia (See The National: The ‘Ajamis’ of the Emirates: a celebrated history). However one group of migrants that has not been documented are those who arrived in the emirates from other Arab states, from the Gulf to the Levant and North Africa. Because these states had introduced institutionalised and modern education before the UAE their citizens were educated in various fields such as law, medicine and engineering. Therefore their presence proved to be a major boon to the UAE both pre and post federation and helped catapult its modernisation. This essay is also a testament to the native people of the UAE who have welcomed this swelling of their population and embraced the new arrivals generation after generation.”

 

Profiling Jabhat al-Nusra” (Charles Lister, Brookings Institution)

“Since mid-2014, the world’s attention has been predominantly transfixed on the more aesthetically shocking actions of ISIS and its immediate threat to international security. However, it is arguably Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria — and perhaps al-Qaida more broadly — that looks more likely to sustainably survive in order to threaten our long-term security. That the U.S. government issued a proposal in July 2016 to coordinate operations against Jabhat al-Nusra alongside the Russian military underlines the legitimate — though late — emergence of a sense of concern about the jihadi group’s rising stature in Syria. However, most importantly, it reveals how poorly the militant movement is understood. External intervention alone will do nothing but empower Jabhat al-Nusra’s increasingly accepted narrative within an already bitter Syrian opposition population that contributed 3,000 fighters to Jabhat al-Nusra’s ranks in northern Syria between February and June 2016.”

-J. Dana Stuster

ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images

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