The Middle East Channel

Clashes Erupt After Body of Palestinian Teen Found in Jerusalem

Israeli police clashed with Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem after the body of a Palestinian teenager was found after a possible revenge attack. Residents of Shuafat, an Arab district of East Jerusalem, said they saw Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, who was either 16 or 17-years-old, being forced into a car early Wednesday. However, police have not confirmed that it was his body found, and said that, "Everything is being examined." On Monday, the bodies of three Israeli teenagers were discovered over two weeks after they were believed to have been kidnapped. The events have sparked increasing tensions and violence in Jerusalem.

Syria

The transfer of chemical weapons materials has begun between the Danish vessel Ark Futura and the U.S. Ship Cape May at the Italian port of Gioia Tauro in the latest phase of an operation to remove and destroy about 1,300 tons of Syrian chemical weapons. The operation is expected to take about 20 hours. After the Cape May has set off into the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, the chemicals, including mustard gas and elements of the nerve agents VX and Sarin, will be neutralized through hydrolysis. The process is expected to take between 45 and 90 days.

Headlines  

  • Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the militant group now calling itself the Islamic State, has called on Muslims worldwide to take up arms and travel to Syria and Iraq to help build the "caliphate."
  • World powers are resuming talks Wednesday with Iran over its nuclear program hoping to reach a comprehensive deal ahead of the July 20 deadline.
  • According to the U.S. Justice Department, Ahmed Abu Khattala, who has been charged for involvement in the 2012 Benghazi attacks, has provided information to U.S. interrogators.

Arguments and Analysis

'Can the PA survive Israel's attack on Hamas?' (Geoffrey Aronson, Al Monitor)

"As this combustible situation unfolds, how vital is it to Israel that the Palestinian Authority continues to exist? Important to be sure, but less so than you might think. 

There are three centers of power and influence regulating Israel's interest in the PA's existence: right-wing politicians, budget overseers and, most crucially, the security system.

All share the view that the PA's value is measured solely against a yardstick of Israeli interests - at the top of which are security and settlement expansion. 

And all agree, without any sense of irony, that Israel's presence in the West Bank - that is, a continuation of its occupation - offers the PA its best, indeed, its only chance for survival."

'Study: Muslims hate terrorism, too' (Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post)

"In a new study released Tuesday, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that "concern about Islamic extremism is high among countries with substantial Muslim populations." This comes at a particularly fraught moment in the Middle East: the jihadist militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has seized whole swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a new caliphate.

The study involved over 14,000 respondents in 14 countries and was conducted between April and May -- before ISIS's dramatic advance through Iraq this past month. But it underscores the growing fear and anger felt by many in Muslim-majority countries when facing a range of militant threats, from that of Boko Haram in Nigeria to ISIS to the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan."

-- Mary Casey

Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images

The Middle East Channel

Israel Launches Airstrikes on Gaza After Finding Bodies of Missing Teens

Israel launched dozens of airstrikes on Gaza overnight Monday, hours after the bodies of three Israeli teenagers kidnapped on June 12 were found. Soldiers and volunteers found the bodies of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel in a valley near the West Bank city of Halhul, north of Hebron Monday afternoon. Investigators believe they were shot after getting into a car thinking they were hitching a ride. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Hamas for abducting the teens and said Monday the group would "pay a heavy price." However, Hamas has denied involvement. Israeli helicopters and jets hit 34 locations in Gaza and the military reported 18 rockets were fired from Gaza in the past two days. Additionally, Israeli troops killed an 18-year-old Palestinian during a raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Iraq

Iraq's parliament convened its inaugural session Tuesday but failed to form a new government. After less than an hour of debate, Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session dashing hopes of quickly establishing an inclusive government and ending the political crisis. Iraqi lawmakers were required by the constitution to choose a speaker during their first session, however the meeting has been adjourned for a week. Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama has deployed 200 additional troops to protect the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as well as its support facilities and the international airport, bringing the total number of U.S. security forces in Iraq to 800. The United Nations reported Tuesday that violence sparked by an offensive led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in northern Iraq killed over 2,400 Iraqis, mostly civilians, in June.

Headlines  

  • Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced he will run in the country's first direct presidential election on August 10.
  • Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani said he intends to hold a referendum on independence from Iraq within months.
  • Egyptian militant group Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt) claimed responsibility for bombings Monday near the presidential palace that killed two police officers.

Arguments and Analysis

'A year after Morsi, Egypt's revolution is not over' (H.A. Hellyer, The Guardian)

"Since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown on 11 February 2011, the revolutionaries have been caught between the state's institutions, including the military, on one hand and the Islamist religious right of the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies on the other. Many had suggested a call for an early presidential election as a way out of the impasse over Morsi's rule. One of them was Amr Hamzawy, one of the few genuinely liberal politicians in Egypt; he is now banned from travelling. Another wasAbdel Moneim Abol-Fotouh, a left-leaning former Brotherhood leader.

Many who supported the protests of 30 June 2013 were adamant that the demonstrations could not allow for the return of Mubarak's entourage or the military. They were a minority and, arguably, could be considered naive, but they can't be described as enablers of a military intervention they had openly campaigned against. The revolutionary camp is small in number and influence, and didn't have the power to determine the final outcome of the protests. Tragically, that incapacity remains today at a time when the nation desperately needs a positive alternative to both the religious right and the new authoritarianism. The crackdown against Morsi's followers enveloped different sections of Egyptian society, and anything from 16,000 to 40,000 are reportedly being detained, along with many hundreds dead due to ensuing violence and human rights violations, according to Human Rights Watch and other human rights organisations."

'Jihadis in Iraq and Syria declare a caliphate? Why that's good.' (Dan Murphy, The Christian Science Monitor)

"Yesterday's declaration of a caliphate by the leading jihadi army in Iraq and Syria - and its demand that Muslims swear oaths of fealty to its leader - could prove the most disastrous piece of jihadi overreach since Al Qaeda in Iraq's routine use of torture and beheadings spurred a Sunni Arab backlash in 2006. 

The formerly Al Qaeda-linked jihadis are generally reported as going from strength to strength in Iraq, taking and holding cities like Mosul and Tikrit from the central government. But the success of the uprising in Iraq in the past month has rested heavily on the backs of Sunni Arab tribes and former Baathists with formal military training. And the grandiose announcement - a telegraphed intent to impose a harsh and regressive vision of Islam on as much territory as possible - is unlikely to make them happy."

-- Mary Casey

AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images