The Middle East Channel

Multiple explosions hit Iraq ahead of Arab League summit

A wave of at least 16 near-simultaneous explosions in six cities across Iraq killed an estimated 46 people and injured over 200 on Tuesday morning. The attacks included multiple suicide and car bombings. One of the blasts came from an improvised explosive device stuck to a car outside the foreign ministry, where Iraqi diplomats and workers have been preparing for next Tuesday's Arab League summit to be held in Baghdad. The meeting will be the first significant diplomatic event in the country's capital since the U.S. troop withdrawal in December 2011 and the first time Baghdad will host the meeting in 20 years. Meanwhile, another attack occurred when a bomb was detonated inside the garage of a police department in Kirkuk (timed with another blast on the same street) resulting in the deaths of 13 people and injury of 30. But the day's deadliest attack took place in the predominantly Shiite city of Karbala where two car bombs exploded in a busy shopping area.

Syria

Human Rights Watch wrote an open letter to the Syrian opposition's Free Syrian Army (FSA) accusing the FSA of human rights abuses including "kidnapping, detention, and torture of security force members, government supporters, and people identified as members of pro-government militias, called shabiha." The accusation came after the opposition took fighting to Mezzeh, a wealthy area of Damascus. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera has obtained hundreds of pages of documents that shed light on President Bashar al-Assad's strategy to quell uprisings. The documents were leaked by Abdel Majid Barak, a defector who was one of the Syrian governments most trusted officials. The documents were prepared for Assad by his intelligence and security chiefs, and included plans for the crackdowns in Aleppo and Idilib and strategies for preventing protests from spreading to Damascus. Elsewhere, Russia has joined western countries in a call for a humanitarian truce in Syria as regime bombardment resurged in Hama when FSA forces resumed operations in the area.

Headlines  

  • A classified U.S. war simulation predicted that an Israeli strike on Iran could escalate into a regional war, raising fears that the United States would not be able to remain on the sidelines.
  • France's Interior Minister Claude Gueant reported that the gunman who shot and killed three children and a teacher outside a Jewish school on Monday recorded the shootings.
  • Tens of thousands of people gathered in Cairo for the funeral of Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda III.
  • Yemen's Ministry of Human Rights released casualty figures in the past year of uprisings, citing 2,000 deaths. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Yemenis protested for the trial of former President Saleh.

Arguments & Analysis

'Strategic breadth and depth: An online syposium on Turkish foreign policy' (multiple authors, Cairo Review of Global Affairs)

Leila Hilal: "Turkey is concerned about the potential for a proxy spillover as Al-Assad could leverage PKK elements within Syria in response to intervention. Perhaps more threatening is how a post-Assad Syria will resolve the long-standing disenfranchisement of its Kurdish population, as Turkey's parliament engages constitutional negotiations including on the status and treatment of 14 million Kurds in the country."

Marc Lynch: "Davuto?lu's comments about Turkish hopes of reshaping the region around more democratic governments and more cooperative relations offer a useful long-term strategic vision. Turkish good offices will continue to be useful in diplomacy with Iran and Syria, and Turkish businesses will be major investors and partners in the opening Arab markets. Indeed, one of their greatest accomplishments may ultimately prove to be the normalization of Turkey in the Middle East, turning it from a distant and disliked outsider into a regular, unexceptional player in a new kind of regional politics."

Michael Wahid Hanna: "With its Islamist pedigree, Turkey's current leadership must now look beyond those groups with which it has natural affinities, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Sunni political class in Iraq, and engage with those communities fearful of a regional Sunni political project. Turkey is uniquely positioned to play such a role and in eschewing a narrow Sunni-focused foreign policy. Turkey can be constructive in preempting crisis and fostering stability. "

'Use national dialogue to boost the Yemeni economy' (Abubakr al-Shamahi, The Daily Star)

"A quick way to bolster the economy, and for Hadi to show that he is serious about change, would be to renegotiate the Aden port deal with the Dubai Ports World corporation. Dubai Ports World has not been meeting targets for growth in south Yemen's Aden, a city that is strategically located between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. Getting a new owner with an ambitious vision could restore Aden's port to its former glory, and provide much needed revenue." 

--Tom Kutsch & Mary Casey

AFP/Getty images

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