Egypt’s Tiananmen | Foreign Policy

Some combination of denial and fear led the Egyptian government to refuse my colleague and me entrance to the country on Sunday night. The form wrapped around my colleague’s passport describing why we were being denied entry was checked, “For security reasons.”

It was an unprecedented step. No one from Human Rights Watch had ever been barred from Egypt, even during the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule. But the reason for my visit was also unprecedented — a massacre that rivals the most notorious of recent times, such as China’s Tiananmen killings in 1989 and Uzbekistan’s Andijan slaughter in 2005. [Read more]

Dear Jon Voight: A letter about Gaza | Al Jazeera

As the carnage in Gaza reached a crescendo in the beginning of August, Jon Voight, one of Hollywood’s most vocal conservatives, penned a harsh attack on fellow actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz in response to a letter they signed condemning the latest Israeli bombing of Gaza in which he accused them of “inciting anti-Semitism all over the world”. Many activists dismiss Voight’s letter as the rantings of an unthinking actor who long ago lost touch with political reality – a poor relation of conservative icon Charlton Heston. But Voight’s vitriol, and the narratives behind them, have for decades been quite effective in silencing criticism of Israel in Hollywood or among entertainers more broadly. [Read more]

Washington said limiting arms transfers to Israel as ties fray | Times of Israel

After months of worsening tensions, the US-Israeli diplomatic relationship has reached new lows, with the White House and State Department last month tightening the reins on arms transfers to Israel, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, and blocking the delivery of a batch of Hellfire precision missiles.

It also reported on a “particularly combative phone call on Wednesday” between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and said administration officials consider Netanyahu and his team reckless and untrustworthy, while the Israel leadership considers the administration weak and naive. [Read more]

Iraq crisis: US and Britain call off rescue of Yazidis on Mount Sinjar | The Guardian

The US and Britain are stepping back from launching a risky military mission to rescue thousands of Iraqis stranded on Mount Sinjar after claiming that special forces on the ground found their condition was better than expected.

Declaring that the US bombing has succeeded in beating back forces from the Islamic State (Isis), the Pentagon said the planned rescue mission had been ruled out for the moment. [Read more]

Dignity Battles the Dawn: The Complex Web of Libya’s Civil War | War on the Rocks

On the surface, it may seem that the driver of Libya’s persistent political and security crises is ideological in nature. On August 4, Libya’s small eastern city of Tobruk housed the handover ceremony for the new national parliament, or House of Representatives (HOR), following elections prompted by an Islamist-routing Qadhafi-era general. Thirty of those elected who are of Islamist inclination – among the 200 total members – declared the body unconstitutional, and even attempted to hold their own handover ceremony in Tripoli. The previous week, a scattering of brigades allied with the extremist group Ansar al-Sharia routed the most disciplined anti-Islamist, government-aligned fighting force operating in Benghazi from their headquarters. Brigades from Misrata that are often labeled as Islamist are also attempting to cut down the triplet of Zintani brigades that has dominated security in the city since the early post-revolution period. The series of attacks and proxy battles in Tripoli, coined “Libya Dawn,” is a clear retort to Qadhafi-era general Khalifa Hifter’s self-promoted “Operation Dignity” begun in Benghazi two months prior. [Read more]

What cluelessness about Syria has wrought | Washington Post

President Obama promised, insisted upon and obtained a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Despite ample intelligence of the growth of the Islamic State in Syria and its “connectivity” to sectarian violence in Iraq, he refused to act there, too. We now see a full-blown Islamist state in the making, bent on eradicating Christians and exporting jihad. Michael Flynn, outgoing director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, explained last week: [Read more]

Obama Stifled Hillary’s Syria Plans and Ignored Her Iraq Warnings for Years | The Daily Beast

Throughout 2011 and well into 2012, President Obama’s White House barred Hillary Clinton’s State Department from even talking directly to the moderate Syrian rebels. This was only one of several ways the Obama team kept the Clinton team from doing more in Syria, back before the revolution was hijacked by ISIS and spread into Iraq.

The policy feud has flared up again in recent weeks, with Clinton decrying Obama’s Syria policy, Obama’s inner circle hitting back, and the president himself calling criticism of his Syria moves “horseshit.” Obama and his former secretary of state promised to patch things up at a social gathering on Wednesday. But the rift is deep, and years in the making. [Read more]

Latest violence in Yemen kills 24 | Columbus Dispatch

A bomb killed nine people in southern Yemen yesterday, a local official said.

Meanwhile, tribal sources in the north said 15 others died in clashes between Shiite Muslim fighters and Sunnis loyal to an Islamist party.

Yemen has been buffeted by violence, mainly involving Sunni Muslim militants from al-Qaida in the south and Shiite tribesmen and rival Sunni Islamists in the north, since mass protests in 2011 forced longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. [Read more]


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