Report

Syrian Rebels Launch Counterattack Against Aleppo Siege

Syrian rebels in Aleppo launched a large counterattack against Assad regime forces last night after several weeks of government siege. Hundreds of opposition fighters — including groups Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra — are involved and have rolled back Assad regime gains in both the north and south of the city. ...

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Syrian rebels in Aleppo launched a large counterattack against Assad regime forces last night after several weeks of government siege. Hundreds of opposition fighters — including groups Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra — are involved and have rolled back Assad regime gains in both the north and south of the city. In Idlib province, rebels shot down a Russian Mi-8 transport helicopter with five people aboard that Russian officials said was returning from Aleppo. Evacuation routes from the city have been closed off and medical transfers have been halted.

Tunisian Prime Minister Ousted in No Confidence Vote

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid was removed from office in a landslide vote of no confidence on Saturday. He had been under pressure to resign since President Beji Caid Essebsi called for the formation of a new unity government in June to enact economic reforms. Essid said on Saturday that he knew he would lose the vote. He would have needed 109 votes to retain his office; he received three. Negotiations among Tunisia’s political parties on the formation of a new government are expected to begin today.

Editor’s Note: The Mideast Brief daily newsletter will cease publication on Aug. 5, 2016. But Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel will continue to be the home of daily thought-provoking content on the politics, trends, and latest news and breaking analysis from across the region.

Headlines

  • Four Islamic State suicide bombers attacked the Bai Hassan oil field and gunmen stormed the AB2 gas compression facility near Kirkuk, Iraq; five people were killed and work has been halted as specialists defuse bombs that were left and repair damage from the blasts.

 

  • Yemen’s Houthi rebels rejected the latest proposal to resolve the country’s civil war, but agreed to remain in Kuwait for talks for one more week; Yemen’s internationally-recognized government supported the proposal, which would have had the Houthis cede control of major cities and initiate a political dialogue.

 

  • Turkish authorities captured the 11 commandos who attempted to seize President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a resort in Marmaris during the July 15 coup attempt; they were found hiding in the woods 30 miles from where the raid occurred.

 

  • Brazilian police arrested a former member of Hezbollah wanted on drug trafficking charges as part of a series of raids on terrorism suspects ahead of the start of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

 

  • Militant supporters of a local Salafi leader destroyed a 16th-Century Sufi mosque and shrine in Taiz, Yemen.

 

  • The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the German charge d’affaires to protest a German court decision barring President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from addressing a pro-Erdogan rally in Cologne via satellite.

 

  • India is arranging exit documents and will facilitate travel for thousands of Indian workers in Saudi Arabia who have been laid off during the Saudi economic decline and cannot afford to travel back to India.

Arguments and Analysis

This is how I was tortured to ‘confess’ in Egypt” (Omar Mohammed Ali, Amnesty International)

“The minute I entered the military intelligence building, the officers gathered around me and started beating me. They handcuffed me from behind until I heard the dawn prayer and it was the dawn of Wednesday. The officer in charge kept asking about my personal life from the moment I was born. I was beaten again and then he told me: ‘I will leave you now and get back to you in the morning.’ I sat there till the afternoon until someone else called for me. Another officer started beating me with a thick stick, put it on my genitals and hit me on the head. He also hit me with his legs and hands, and with a thin cable. He started beating me more when he knew that my dad died in Rabaa, and he asked other lower ranked officers in the room to undress me. They took off all of my clothes including my underwear.”

 

Will Turkey’s coup prompt others nearby?” (Curtis Bell and Jonathan Powell, Monkey Cage)

“Coup-related repression spreads around regions because leaders fear coup attempts can also cross borders. This fear is evident in the statements of world leaders and early scholarship on coup activity. Turkish President Recep Erdogan recently likened his post-coup crackdown to stamping out a virus, an analogy that reflects the common belief that coups can be contagious. Scholars like Samuel Huntington and Ruth First observed waves of coup attempts sweeping Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa in the 1960s and similarly warned of international coup contagion. Yet more recent research offers little reason for leaders to aggressively coup-proof when coup attempts happen in other countries. The most comprehensive and rigorous study on this topic is a newly published paper by Michael K. Miller, Michael Joseph and Dorothy Ohl. They find no evidence that coups act as a virus, either globally or regionally. This does not mean coups are never inspired by events in other countries, only that it does not hold as a general trend. It may be the case that coup attempts are not spreading like a virus because leaders learn from events in other countries and successfully undermine coup plots before they can occur.”

-J. Dana Stuster

OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images

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