The Middle East Channel

Maliki Rejects Calls to Form 'National Salvation Government' in Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has rejected calls from the United States and other countries to form an emergency government. In a televised address, Maliki said calls to form "a national salvation government" represented a "coup against the constitution and the political process." Maliki's bloc won parliamentary elections held in April and he said he is committed to forming a new government based on those results by July 1. Meanwhile, about 130 of the special forces and military advisors the United States said it would deploy to Iraq have arrived in Baghdad to aid Iraqi troops in fighting Sunni militants. According to Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby, another four teams of military experts would arrive in the capital in the coming days for what he said would be "a limited, short-term mission." On Wednesday, militants took control of multiple small oilfields and attacked and surrounded one of Iraq's largest airbases, north of Baghdad.  

Syria

Syrian warplanes conducted airstrikes in western Iraq Tuesday killing at least 50 people and wounding over 132 others. The strikes hit a municipal building, a market, and a bank in the Anbar province district of al Rutba, according to a provincial official as well as a local doctor. However, U.S. officials were not able to confirm the reports. While the attacks were widely reported in Iraqi media, Iraqi air force officials did not report a breach of its airspace. Iraqi state media initially reported that U.S. drones were responsible for the strikes, though this was strongly denied by the Pentagon.

Headlines

  • Libyans began voting Wednesday in parliamentary elections, to fill 200 seats in a new House of Representatives, amid insecurity compounded by former General Heftar's campaign against Islamist militias in the east.
  • Three small explosions hit subway stations in the Egyptian capital of Cairo Wednesday morning wounding three people and another bomb was detonated outside a court.
  • A Bahrain court has cleared Khalil al-Marzouq, a senior member of the opposition al-Wefaq party, of terrorism charges.

Arguments and Analysis

'Who Lost Iraq?' (Emma Sky, Foreign Affairs)

"But it is not the borders that are the root of the problems of these countries. It is the political leadership, which has failed to develop inclusive and robust states. Grievances against the governments of Maliki and Bashar al-Assad in Syria have created the environment in which ISIS can prosper. And, ironically, although the ISIS has railed against national divisions, the tensions between its international jihadist agenda and the nationalist agendas of most Sunni groups will inevitably create friction and infighting. For now, though, ISIS will find plenty of Sunnis willing to join the fray."

'Gaza's unemployed graduates: between Google and falafel' (Asmaa al-Ghoul, Al-Monitor)

"According to a report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 30,000 students graduate each year from Palestinian institutions of higher learning. The bureau and a Sharek Youth Forum report indicate that people between 15 and 29 years of age constitute 29.9% of the total population of 4.42 million in Palestine. The unemployment rate among graduates was 52.5% in the first quarter of 2013, and 37% of graduates are economically active. The report also showed a positive correlation between the rise in education levels and the increase in the unemployment rate.

As shown here, a number of graduates have turned to alternatives to cope with unemployment, which is spreading among Gaza's youth. For instance, media and sociology activist Alaa al-Malfouh created the blog Opportunities, which launched in 2011 to facilitate job searches for youths by compiling trusted job offerings from various resources such as youth institutions, official websites, companies and local newspapers. The offerings are published for free and are easily accessible, Malfouh said."

-- Mary Casey

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The Middle East Channel

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry Urges Kurds to Join Unity Iraqi Government

After meeting in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled north to the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil to urge Kurdish leaders to join a new unity government. In an interview Monday, Kurdish President Masoud Barzani suggested the autonomous region would seek formal independence from Iraq, noting, "Iraq is obviously falling apart." After militants led by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized Mosul earlier in June, Kurdish security forces took control over the oil rich city of Kirkuk, which the Kurds consider their historic capital. On Monday, militants claimed to have overtaken Iraq's largest oil refinery in Baiji. Local tribal leaders said they had negotiated a deal for the surrender of the remaining Iraqi forces at the facility. However, government officials said troop reinforcements had blocked the assault. According to the United Nations, violence has killed at least 1,075 people, primarily civilians, in Iraq in June.

Syria

The director of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmet Uzumcu, has reported the remainder of Syria's chemical weapons materials have been removed for destruction. According to Uzumcu, the final portion, about eight percent, of the Syrian regime's declared stockpile was loaded onto ships in the port of Latakia Monday. The materials will be delivered to the U.S. ship Cape Ray and commercial facilities for destruction. However, the OPCW did not declare Syria free of chemical weapons, saying verification work had not been completed. Additionally, the organization said Syrian officials had not yet destroyed several facilities used to produce and mix munitions.

Headlines

  • Egyptian President Sisi said he would not "interfere" with judicial verdicts following international condemnation over lengthy sentences issued to three Al Jazeera journalists.
  • A suicide car bombing killed a security officer and wounded an estimated 25 people outside a café near an army checkpoint in the Lebanese capital of Beirut late Monday.

Arguments and Analysis

'Beware Libya's 'Fair Dictator'' (Ibrahim Sharqieh, The New York Times)

"Regardless of General Hifter's motives, Libya needs an inclusive national dialogue, not the formation of an additional militia or a coup.

General Hifter's aligning with militias is likely to trigger the formation of other alliances among Libya's 250,000 militants and deepen Libya's divisions, possibly even pushing the country into outright civil war. Only around 30,000 fighters fought against Colonel Qaddafi's army; the rest took up arms later.

Over the past two years many of them have profited from - and developed an interest in maintaining - the chaos that engulfs the country. Warlords, Islamist groups and other committed revolutionaries who truly fought against the Qaddafi government will not surrender to General Hifter's movement - and that poses a grave threat to Libya's prospects for stability."

'Oil and the Iraqi Civil War: How Security Dynamics May Affect Oil Production' (Kenneth M. Pollack, The Brookings Institution)

"We should always remember that war is highly unpredictable, and it is exceptionally difficult to assess a dynamic balance of combat forces with such limited information. Nevertheless, the evidence we have suggests that it is more likely that the Iraqi civil war will settle into a vicious stalemate roughly along current lines for the foreseeable future than it is that the Sunni militant fighters will be able to swiftly overrun Baghdad and drive south into Iraq's main oil fields."

-- Mary Casey

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images