Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is becoming increasing isolated losing the support of Iran, militia and army commanders, and politicians, including members of his own party. On Tuesday, Iran endorsed Iraqi President Fouad Massoum's nominee for prime minister, Haider al-Abadi. Meanwhile, the United States has sent an additional 130 military advisors to assist in humanitarian relief operations in northern Iraq where militants led by the Islamic State have seized large portions of territory. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated the military may expand the mission, however he maintained that U.S. troops were not being deployed to fight asserting that this "is not a combat-boots-on-the-ground operation." Additionally, France has announced it will supply arms to Kurdish forces battling Islamic State fighters. Britain said its focus remains on humanitarian aid drops, though it plans to also send a "small number" of helicopters and will transport military equipment provided by other countries to the Kurdish forces.
Islamic State fighters have seized several towns and villages in Syria's northern province of Aleppo province. The towns, including Turkmen Bareh and Akhtarin, 30 miles northeast of Aleppo, had been under the control of opposition forces. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the gains have opened the way for the group to advance toward the west. Additionally, clashes were reported between Islamic State militants and Syrian government forces near a military airport in Raqqa over the government's last held position. Meanwhile, government forces have surrounded the city of Aleppo on three sides forcing rebel fighters to prepare for a siege on the country's largest city.
- Up to six people were killed in Gaza as a bomb disposal team attempted to dismantle an Israeli missile meanwhile Palestinian negotiators are considering an Egyptian truce proposal as a 72-hour cease-fire is set to expire.
- The Egyptian government justified blocking entry to Human Rights Watch staff and accused the group of violating the law and Egypt's sovereignty and trying to imfringe upon the independence of the judiciary.
- Fighting erupted Tuesday night between Houthi rebels and fighters loyal to the Islamist Islah party killing an estimated 15 people in Yemen's northeastern al-Jouf province.
- A Bahrain court has sentenced 14 Shiites to life in prison over the death of a police officer during a July 2013 anti-regime protest.
Arguments and Analysis
'A Big Mistake: A Rush for Kurdistan's Independence' (Matthew M. Reed, The National Interest)
"The Kurds are naturally excited by the prospect of independence. A long history of marginalization and victimization makes their case for statehood especially moving. But there can be no independent Kurdistan without steady revenue. Selling oil in spite of Baghdad is already proving to be extremely difficult. Should Erbil commit to a nasty divorce, what was difficult might become impossible."
'The Amputation of Egypt's Islamist Political Arm' (Tarek Radwan, Atlantic Council)
"As the court extinguishes the final vestige of the Muslim Brotherhood's official political influence, Egyptian authorities will sooner or later have to answer the question: will repressive stability bring about the security and prosperity that Sisi recently promised? While some critics might say that Egypt has suffered a blow to political plurality, the court's decision to dissolve the FJP represents more of a housekeeping directive-one that formally implements and provides legal cover for a preexisting policy that aims to eliminate dissent (some may even believe that the judiciary had already disbanded the party). But as avenues to express opposing political views dwindle, fewer peaceful options remain and contribute to a growing radicalization of the marginalized. Echoes of jihadist voices that ridicule the Muslim Brotherhood for trying to pursue democratic means, claiming that only violence can achieve their desired goals, begin to ring louder. With no guidance from a decapitated movement, hatred from a bitter majority, and brutality from a determined police force, rage begins to build. While impossible to link the Muslim Brotherhood directly to extremist violence, such rage has undoubtedly burst forth in militant attacks."
-- Mary Casey
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images