Hamas said an Israeli airstrike has killed the wife and young son of the group's military commander, Mohammed Deif. The Israeli military would not confirm if it targeted the leader of Hamas's military wing, or his family, however Deif has been the target of previous Israeli assassination attempts and he was threatened by Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid in July. Israeli airstrikes resumed on Tuesday in response to rocket fire from Gaza, breaking a temporary cease-fire and causing Israeli and Palestinian delegates to abandon indirect talks in Cairo. The Israeli military carried out around 60 strikes on the Gaza Strip, which reportedly killed 11 Palestinians. Additionally, Israel said 80 rockets had been fired into its territory.
The Islamic State released a video Tuesday purporting to show militants beheading U.S. photojournalist James Foley, who was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012. The authenticity of the video, titled "A Message to America," has not yet been verified. In the video, an Islamic State militant, speaking English with what seemed to be a British accent, said Foley's execution was in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. Additionally, the fighter threatened to kill another U.S. journalist, Steven Sotloff, who appeared to be kneeling alongside Foley. Sotloff went missing while covering the conflict in July 2013 in northern Syria. Facing a growing threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday called for an international conference to discuss a global strategy to fight the militant group.
- Yemeni security forces deployed in the capital Sanaa Tuesday facing tens of thousands of protesters including Houthi supporters calling for the resignation of the government.
- An Iraqi army offensive to retake the city of Tikrit from Islamic State militants has seemingly stalled meanwhile Iraqi and Kurdish forces scuffled near the Mosul Dam.
Arguments and Analysis
'Trouble is brewing' (P.S., The Economist)
"Appearing on the Houthis' Al Masira television channel, Abdelmalek al-Houthi, the Houthis' leader, demanded that President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi reverse a decision taken in July to remove subsidies, which hit Yemen's poor, who amount to a half of the population. Second, he demanded the president dissolve the country's 'corrupt' government in favour of a more representative body. Mr Houthi wants cabinet posts to be divvied up between Yemen's various groups in the same proportions as representation at Yemen's National Dialogue, a ten-month series of peace talks that ended in January. Houthi representatives made up 6% of attendees.
Mr Houthi threatens to take 'measures' if their demands are not met by August 22nd-likely a campaign of civil disobedience such as sit-ins in front of government buildings in Sana'a. In a first demonstration of the group's ability to mobilise unhappy Yemenis, on August 18th at least 10,000 people flooded into Sana'a's 'Change Square', a central square that was set up as a protest camp during the 2011 uprising that ousted the former president, Ali Abdullah al-Saleh. 'We need a government of technocrats, for the people,' says Hamid Abdullah Hindawn, 50, a supporter from Sana'a."
'Syria in Revolt' (Sadik J. Al-Azm, Boston Review)
"I was surprised by the revolution, but I should not have been. Daily experiences and recurrent observations foretold a crisis that many Syrians tried hard to deny. And deny we did. Let me explain.
After the violent suppression of the Damascus Spring in 2001-2002 and again after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in Beirut in 2005, which led to the humiliating withdrawal of Assad's troops from Lebanon, angst spread throughout Syria. I was working in Damascus, where the trepidation was especially pronounced. The country, it seemed, was teetering on the edge of an abyss."
'In Egypt, Religion Remains a Vital Political Tool' (Johannes A. Makar, Atlantic Council)
"It was a familiar sight: the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar, Ahmed at-Tayyeb, and the Coptic Pope, Tawadros II, side-by-side as General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the ousting of Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013. Front seats were granted to the two grey-bearded clerics who had donned their customary robes for the occasion. Since the founding of the Republic of Egypt in 1952, the Church and al-Azhar have often joined efforts with the state authorities. This time another, pious actor befriended the triad: the-Salafist Nour Party. With Egypt then standing on the verge of entering a new adventure, the formation of this curious alliance suggested that religion as a political instrument would not perish."-- Mary Casey
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