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Dozens Killed in Intense Fighting Near Manbij
A particularly violent day left left dozens dead in ongoing fighting in the Manbij pocket, in Syria. This Islamic State has counterattacked this week against the offensive by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces coalition and retaken several towns. Since capturing the village of Buyir yesterday, the terror group has executed 24 civilians. Last night, U.S. ...
A particularly violent day left left dozens dead in ongoing fighting in the Manbij pocket, in Syria. This Islamic State has counterattacked this week against the offensive by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces coalition and retaken several towns. Since capturing the village of Buyir yesterday, the terror group has executed 24 civilians. Last night, U.S. airstrikes targeting the Islamic State-occupied town of Al-Ghandour killed 41 people, at least 28 of whom were civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. While the fighting has been inconclusive so far, U.S. officials say Syrian forces have captured new Islamic State documents and digital records that could be useful in understanding the organization’s structure and operations.
Jabhat al-Nusrah Rebrands as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham
Jabhat al-Nusrah, the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, posted a video from its leader, Abu Muhammad al-Julani, yesterday announcing that it is changing its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, approximately translated as the Levantine Conquest Front. The rebranding comes a day after al-Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a statement in which he granted Nusrah permission to break with al-Qaeda if its affiliation was causing division within the group or increasing the threat of attack. Analysts have noted that Julani’s statement, though, does not formally renounce Nusrah’s ties to al-Qaeda.
Coup Plotters Planned to Prosecute Erdogan over PKK Talks, Document Suggests
A draft indictment found by Turkish authorities suggests that the plotters of the failed July 15 coup planned to try President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for “colluding with terrorists,” citing his government’s six-year effort to reconcile with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that broke down last year. A copy of the draft was obtained by BuzzFeed. At least one analyst told BuzzFeed that the indictment does not necessarily refute the government’s claim that the coup was a Gulenist conspiracy, noting that the Gulenist movement feels threatened by Kurds in Turkey’s southeast and has tried to push similar terrorism charges before.
- Hisham Geneina, the senior Egyptian auditor who was fired and drew legal action from the government for telling press that corruption cost Egypt $67.6 billion over four years, was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison and a $2,200 fine for spreading “false news.”
- With peace talks in Kuwait stalled, the Houthi faction of the conflict announced Thursday its intention to form a new governing council outside the U.N. process; U.N. Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the decision violates the a U.N. resolution and the Houthis’ commitments at the peace talks.
- Turkish authorities arrested three senior executives of Boydak Holding company in Kayseri under suspicion of funding the Gulenist movement’s operations in Turkey; the arrests are the first since the coup to target the Turkish business community.
- The Libyan Government of National Accord’s Presidential Council is in discussions with the forces guarding the Ras Lanuf and Es Sider oil ports, the Petroleum Facilities Guards brigade, to reopen the facilities and restore service at the country’s two largest oil terminals.
- French authorities identified the second man involved in the church attack in St-Etienne-du-Rouvray as Abdel-Malik Nabil Petitjean, who was also a 19-year-old French citizen of Algerian descent; he had traveled to Turkey in June but was barred entry and French authorities were alerted that he may be a security concern.
Arguments and Analysis
“How Will the Failed Coup in Turkey Affect Syria?” (Aron Lund, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
“However, a stronger Erdogan does not necessarily mean a stronger Turkey. The tense political situation and the sheer scale of the purge may weaken the government and make it less able to efficiently promote its interests in Syria. If so, Ankara could be forced to scale-down its involvement to more manageable levels or hand over influence to allies who do not fully share its goals. Then again, having a more unstable military and policymaking apparatus, and less oversight from a much-too-busy central government, could also translate into more reckless policies in Syria. With reports of Sunni-Alawite sectarian clashes in Turkey and unrest in several areas, as well as Syria-based jihadi extremists striking at Turkish targets, there is also a risk that Syrian refugees could become caught up in the aftermath to the coup.”
“U.S. Assistance to the Middle East Is Drying Up When the Region Needs It Most” (Stephen McInerney, Open Society Foundations)
“During this critical time, Obama’s promise of support couldn’t be more vital. And yet, against the backdrop of declining democracy and increasing repression, U.S. support has been inconsistent, half-hearted, and not backed up by meaningful pressure on the authoritarian allies of the United States. On occasion, the administration has taken stands through private messages or public statements condemning specific crackdowns against civil society. But it has largely failed to follow its words with action. Instead, it has gone back to prioritizing overly militarized relationships with repressive regimes in exchange for short-term security. In 2013, President Obama launched his ‘Stand with Civil Society’ initiative, pledging that the U.S. government would back firmly those in civil society facing pressure, harassment, and threats from their government. But his administration has mostly watched silently as the government of Egypt, the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid globally, has been steadily wiping out its vibrant community of independent human rights organizations.”
-J. Dana Stuster
DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images