Prosor: Qatar will soon be second largest sponsor of terror | Jerusalem Post

Qatar is one of Hamas’s main financial backers and will soon be the world’s second largest sponsor of global terrorism, second only to Iran, charged Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor.

“Hamas has been able to get away from its crimes thanks to support and sponsorship it receives from Qatar,” Prosor said on Monday as he spoke with reporters in New York outside a UN Security Council meeting on the Gaza conflict and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [Read more]

Islamic State fighters halt Iraqi offensive to recapture Saddam’s home town | Reuters

Iraqi forces halted a short-lived offensive on Tuesday to recapture Tikrit, home town of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, due to fierce resistance from Islamic state fighters who have also threatened to attack Americans “in any place”.

In Geneva, the United Nations refugee agency announced a major aid operation to get supplies to more than half a million people displaced by fighting in northern Iraq. [Read more]

The Islamic State’s social media strategy | Al Monitor

Arabic news websites’ most-read stories are currently those related to atrocities allegedly committed by the Islamic State (IS). The topics of these stories vary from sexual violence to beheadings, and all sorts of behavior inherent to medieval times. Some stories involve internationally known figures who are quoted saying things about IS; the row over former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s memoir is a good example.

The Clinton-IS story started when several Arab-language websites posted a report claiming that Clinton wrote in her memoir “Hard Choices” that the United States assisted the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) to cause division in the Arab world, and that Washington and its European allies agreed ISIS would be established on July 5, 2013. According to this fabricated story, however, this plan collapsed due to the June 30 Revolution in Egypt that targeted the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted former President Mohammed Morsi. [Read more]

Isis fighters show strength as they repel Iraqi army’s attempt to retake Tikrit | The Guardian

Islamic State (Isis) fighters have repelled an Iraqi army attempt to retake Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit in a battle that underlines the group’s continuing strength despite losing control of the strategically important Mosul dam.

Boosted by Monday’s recapture of the dam, Iraqi forces launched an assault on Tikrit, 80 miles (130km) north of Baghdad, with helicopter gunships and mortar and artillery fire. When troops entered the town from near its main hospital they faced heavy machine gun and mortar fire from the militants, forcing the military to pull back. It was the third failed attempt to retake Tikrit since it fell to Isis fighters more than two months ago, when Isis made sweeping gains in five provinces. Since then Tikrit has been controlled by Sunni militants and former members of Saddam’s Ba’ath party. [Read more]

Iraq military clashes with militants in Tikrit | Middle East Institute

Skirmishes broke out Tuesday between Iraqi security forces and militants on the outskirts of Tikrit, a local official and a resident said, a day after the Iraqi and Kurdish troops backed by U.S. airstrikes dislodged Islamic militants from a strategic dam in the country’s north.

The clashes began on the southwestern outskirts of the militant-held city of Tikrit, located about 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital, when a military convoy was travelling along the main highway that links Baghdad with the northern provinces, they said. [Read more]

Israel and the Demise of “Mowing the Grass” | War on the rocks

Unable to find a political solution to its protracted conflict with Hamas, Israel employs restrained military force to disrupt Hamas attacks on Israeli citizens. But, over time, Hamas capabilities inevitably increase and its attacks become more effective. At this point, Israel will conduct a major operation to reduce Hamas’ capabilities. In essence, it “mows the grass.” It hopes that these periodic major operations will provide periods of quiet, but knows that the quiet will last only until Hamas rebuilds its offensive capabilities. And then Israel will once again conduct a major operation. Like a homeowner, Israel has to mow the grass to keep it from growing out of control.

No one thinks this “strategy” will bring lasting peace. Rather, it is an operational approach required by the inability of the political elements of either side to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict. No Palestinian leader can provide assurances that all Palestinian organizations will stop attacks against Israel, and no Israeli leader can assure the Palestinians that Israel will come to terms on or abide by a peace agreement. There are too many factions and spoilers on both sides. With no political resolution in sight, Palestinian hardliners continue their attacks, Israeli hardliners continue to build new settlements in the Occupied Territories, and Israeli security forces seek to keep the violence at an acceptable level by periodically mowing the grass. [Read more]

Sectarian Past and Pluralist Hopes for Iraq’s Likely Leader | New York Times

The last time the United States pushed Iraqis to choose a new prime minister who could unite the country to confront a sectarian civil war was in 2006, and the Iraqis chose Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The result was another civil war. This time, with the country again on the edge of collapse, they have chosen Haider al-Abadi.

Both men come from the same Shiite Islamist movement whose members, after decades of clandestine opposition to Saddam Hussein and the Sunni elite that dominated his rule, were asked to govern Iraq in an inclusive way that accommodated the Sunnis they considered their former tormentors. [Read more]

Berlin remains mostly silent about spying on Turkey | Today’s Zaman

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, visiting Riga in Latvia on Monday refused to comment on the allegations made in the German media suggesting that Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) has been spying on Turkey.

When asked about a report by German magazine Der Spiegel suggesting that the BND was and is still spying on Turkey — citing a confidential 2009 BND document — Merkel said she could not comment on the activities of the intelligence services. She added that if there was anything else necessary to be discussed, it would be discussed at the relevant parliamentary panel. [Read more]

Turkey’s mysterious case of the bearded men | Washington Post

It is a journalist’s greatest challenge in the field: How to tell rumor from fact.

Consider the Case of the Four Long Beards. [Read more]


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