U.S. President Barack Obama announced that Kurdish and Iraqi forces, with the support of U.S. airstrikes, had made "important progress" reclaiming the Mosul Dam from Islamic State militants on Monday. Obama said the U.S. military will continue limited missions in Iraq and he committed to providing humanitarian aid to Iraqis. However, he stressed the need for the process of forming Iraq's new government under Haider al-Abadi to be inclusive, legitimate, and credible. A day after overtaking the Mosul dam, Iraqi forces launched an offensive against Islamic State fighters in and around the city of Tikrit, which the militants seized in June. Meanwhile, the United Nations has launched a major humanitarian aid operation to deliver food and supplies to over half a million people displaced by violence in northern Iraq.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has formally barred all U.S. airlines from flying over Syria due to the ongoing conflict. The FAA said the decision was made after an updated risk assessment concerning extremist groups that are "known to be equipped with a variety of antiaircraft weapons which have the capability to threaten civilian aircraft." Additionally, the United States reported it had completed the neutralization of Syria's worst chemical weapons that were delivered to the U.S. ship, the Cape Ray.
- Israeli and Palestinian officials have agreed to a 24-hour cease-fire extension to continue talks in Cairo meanwhile Israel has accused West Bank Hamas cells of plotting a coup to oust Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
- A Kurdish protester was killed in southeastern Turkey in clashes with security forces who were removing a statue of Mahsum Korkmaz, a founder of the Kurdistan Workers' Party.
- Unidentified militiamen fired rockets into two affluent districts of Tripoli early Tuesday pushing fighting closer to the center of Libya's capital.
- Saudi Arabia executed four men convicted of smuggling cannabis bringing the total number of executions in the kingdom to 17 over the past two weeks.
- Turkish authorities detained 25 more police officers in an investigation into the illegal wiretapping of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdgoan.
Arguments and Analysis
'Why Maliki's ouster is no magic bullet for Iraq' (Michael Wahid Hanna, Al Jazeera America)
"Much of the recent media conversation about the rapid territorial gains of the Islamic State (IS) focused on Maliki, as if he had been the key obstacle to the achievement of a new Iraqi national consensus that could turn the tide against the extremists. Maliki's sectarian, authoritarian and paranoid tendencies as well as his growing incompetence have certainly exacerbated the country's chronic political and security maladies and rendered him a toxic figure among Iraq's domestic and foreign stakeholders. And the impending transfer of power from one Shia prime minister of the Da'wa party to another, Haider el-Abadi, avoids the potential for a major disruption among Iraq's democratic institutions.
But redistributing authority in Baghdad is unlikely to have a significant impact on either the motivations or the capabilities of the IS. Despite the now hackneyed truism that there is no military solution to Iraq's current crisis, it is equally clear that a significant military campaign will be necessary for Iraq to reverse the gains of the IS."
'Israel and the Demise of "Mowing the Grass"' (T.X. Hammes, War on the Rocks)
"In short, technological advances offer Hamas the opportunity to shift from a terror strategy to a military strategy that focuses on Israeli security forces. This will place even more pressure on Israel over the proportionality of its response. The issue did not surface until it became apparent that disproportionate numbers of Palestinian civilians were being killed at a time when the threat to Israeli civilians was at a minimum. During the recent conflict, Israel could legitimately claim that its technical and tactical proficiency was what reduced the Israeli civilian casualties - and point to the continuing Palestinian efforts to fire rockets at civilian areas. It will be much more difficult for Israel to justify its actions against Palestinian civilians if Hamas focuses its attacks on Israeli security forces. Furthermore, if Hamas focuses on the personnel and facilities that enforce Israel's blockade, it can argue that its actions are directly focused on improving the lives of Palestinian civilians. It is much more difficult for Israel to insist that the blockade is a security rather than a punitive measure given that Hamas has smuggled in materials to build thousands of rockets as well as miles of tunnels. Since the blockade has clearly failed to prevent the infiltration of weapons, can the enormous humanitarian cost to the Palestinian people be justified?"
-- Mary Casey
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images