Report

U.S. Begins Strikes Targeting Islamic State in Sirte

The U.S. military has begun bombing Islamic State-occupied Sirte, Libya, in support of pro-government militias trying to retake the city. The strikes were authorized in response to a request from Government of National Accord Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, who in a television address told Libyans that the role of the foreign intervention would remain small. ...

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The U.S. military has begun bombing Islamic State-occupied Sirte, Libya, in support of pro-government militias trying to retake the city. The strikes were authorized in response to a request from Government of National Accord Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, who in a television address told Libyans that the role of the foreign intervention would remain small. The United States has previously conducted airstrikes against specific Islamic State targets in Libya and it has been reported that some U.S. and European troops were building ties with local fighters, but the operations announced by the U.S. Department of Defense yesterday mark the first sustained U.S. intervention against the Islamic State’s Libyan affiliate in coordination with local ground forces. After the start of U.S. strikes yesterday, pro-government fighters were able to advance to the city’s central neighborhood, Al-Dollar.

Failed Coup Cost Turkey $100 Million, According to Government Estimates

The Turkish government has estimated that the failed July 15 coup attempt has cost the country’s economy $100 million, and that the figure could still rise, Turkish Customs and Commerce Minister Bulent Tufenkci told Hurriyet. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed over the weekend new constitutional reforms that would place the intelligence service and military chief-of-staff directly under presidential control. The proposal is the latest effort by Erdogan to consolidate the power of the presidency. The Turkish government has now reportedly filed a second extradition request for Fethullah Gulen, the controversial cleric who the government has accused of orchestrating the coup. A delegation of opposition politicians is visiting Washington, DC, this week, where they have spoken in favor of the extradition and said they stand behind the government and against the attempted coup.

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

  • Intense fighting continues in Aleppo, where at least 30 people, including civilians, were killed by rebel shelling targeting government-held neighborhoods.

 

  • Rescue workers in Saraqeb, Syria, told reporters that the town had been hit by a toxic gas attack yesterday that affected 33 people shortly before a Russian military helicopter was shot down nearby.

 

  • Another 120 bodies of migrants and refugees drowned at sea have washed ashore in Libya in the past 10 days; three-quarters of all migrant deaths this year, 4,027 people total, have occurred trying to transit the Mediterranean to Europe, according to the International Organization on Migration.

 

  • The delegation representing Yemen’s internationally-recognized government left peace talks in Kuwait yesterday, saying that they supported a proposed agreement but that there was nothing left to do unless the Houthi delegation agreed as well.

 

  • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued a travel ban against several members of parliament; Abadi’s office said the move is a temporary response pending an investigation of corruption concerns raised by the defense minister.

 

  • Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei complained in a speech yesterday that Iranians have received no “tangible effect” from the Iran nuclear agreement and that the United States has been too slow and incremental in lifting sanctions.

Arguments and Analysis

The Outlook for Arab Gulf Cooperation” (Jeffrey Martini, Becca Wasser, Dalia Dassa Kaye, Daniel Egel, and Cordaye Ogletree, Rand Corporation)

“Aside from a fundamental shift in Iran’s orientation, the course of proxy conflicts that have spread throughout the region may have the greatest impact on GCC unity in the years to come. Although Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya have strong domestic drivers to their conflicts, external involvement also plays a major role in sustaining the conflicts and shaping their outcomes. Because several GCC states are involved as direct belligerents or primary patrons of factions within these conflicts, how they evolve is likely to have a significant impact on unity. Of the three current conflicts mentioned, Yemen has engendered the most action insofar as all GCC states except Oman are participating in the military operation against the Houthis and Saleh loyalists. In the short term, that military campaign is providing a tremendous boost to GCC unity. Qatar and the UAE, only a year removed from supporting different factions in Egypt and Libya, are now fighting together to restore the Hadi government. And an outcome viewed as successful by the coalition participants will almost certainly provide a boost to Saudi leadership within the GCC and the Middle East.”

 

Can a regional process unlock Israeli-Palestinian peace?” (Hugh Lovatt, European Council on Foreign Relations)

“This limited Israeli rapprochement with Arab states does not signal complete acceptance, since these relations remain as deep as astroturf. What’s more, the pragmatic relationships that many of the region’s leaders enjoy with Israel show few signs of percolating down to grassroots Arab society, which remains virulently anti-Israeli – and in some cases virulently anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, both Israel and Arab states have shown they have a common interest in engaging on key dossiers beyond the Palestinian issue and there still appears to be space for greater rapprochement before the parties reach the limit of what is possible without full normalisation.”

-J. Dana Stuster

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images

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