Medieval Cruelty in Modern Times: ISIS Thugs Behead American Journalist | The Daily Beast

The group known as ISIS has murdered American journalist James Foley, beheading him as if he were a captive taken in medieval combat. It posted a YouTube video designed for a 21st-century audience and threatened to kill another journalist hostage, Steven Joel Sotloff, if the United States continues its airstrikes against ISIS positions in Iraq.

The murderers, who now call themselves “knights” serving the “caliph” of the self-declared Islamic State that straddles northern Syria and Iraq, had Foley make a statement before he died. [Read more]

James Foley and the Last Journalists in Syria | The Atlantic

On the 636th day of James Foley’s captivity, and roughly the 1,250th day of Syria’s uprising-turned-civil-war, a video surfaced online that claimed to show the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria beheading the American photojournalist, in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against the Sunni extremist group in Iraq (the militants also threatened to kill the missing American journalist Steven Sotloff, who seems from the footage to be an ISIS captive as well). The White House has yet to confirm the authenticity of the video, but the Foley family has already acknowledged its loss.

“We have never been prouder of our son Jim,” Foley’s mother posted on Facebook on Tuesday evening. “He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.” [Read more]

(Air) Striking the Right Balance in Iraq | War on the Rocks

As the forces of the Islamic State (IS) have solidified their gains after declaring the establishment of a new caliphate and are now conducting spectacular attacks in Baghdad, threatening Kurdish controlled areas, targeting minorities, and creating a humanitarian crisis, President Obama has approved air strikes in an attempt to stem the tide of their advance. The air strikes are a viable, albeit limited, option that have the potential to achieve three objectives: destroy IS forces, leadership, and materiel; disrupt the current offensive and prevent the massacre of innocent civilians; and boost morale within the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the peshmerga. Tactically, they can also offer decisive support to forces on the ground engaged in key missions, as they appear to have done in the fight to recapture the Mosul Dam.

The terrorist group that has been fighting against the Assad regime in Syria and conducting attacks within Iraq has matured into a formidable regional insurgency. While IS continues to conduct bombings in Baghdad and other major cities across the country as it has done for years, it now seeks to augment its violence by providing a viable alternative to the Iraqi government, administering governance in captured cities. In areas under its control such as Raqqa in Syria, IS continues to dole out brutal punishments for violating its extreme interpretation of sharia, but now also provides health and welfare services, public works, and even a rudimentary form of consumer protection. Perhaps most concerning, whereas earlier recruiting focused on calling for believers to wage violent jihad and become martyrs—jihadists have even adapted the Internet slang YOLO, using YODO (You Only Die Once) in online forums and twitter feeds to encourage martyrdom operations—IS is now encouraging like-minded extremists to flock to the newly established caliphate to live and join the new society. [Read more]

How Erdogan won the women’s vote | Al Monitor

On Aug. 13, A&G Research Center, one of the most prestigious research centers in Turkey, announced that 55% of women and 48% of men voted for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Aug. 10 presidential election. This was an important revelation for three reasons. First, the opposition parties and pundits in Turkey are still investigating why Erdogan won in the first round so easily. They are looking for someone to blame for Erdogan’s victory. The usual suspects are those who did not vote, particularly those on vacation who had the resources to come back to vote but not the willpower. Next was the revelation that some right-wing voters indeed preferred Erdogan to the joint candidate. Particularly, it was observed that many Nationalist Action Party (MHP) constituents opted for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). Now the latest suspect is “women voters.” How did Erdogan charm the female constituency? [Read more]

Syria conflict: President Assad finally turns on Isis as government steps up campaign against militant strongholds | The Independent

As the US military strikes Isis in Iraq, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have significantly stepped up their own campaign against militant strongholds in Syria, carrying out dozens of air strikes against the Islamist group’s headquarters in the past two days.

While the government in Damascus has long turned a blind eye to Isis’s expansion in Syria – in some cases even facilitating its offensive against mainstream rebels – the group’s rapid march on towns and villages in northern and eastern Syria is now threatening to overturn recent gains by government forces. [Read more]

Palestinians say Israeli airstrike targets top Hamas commander in Gaza | Washington Post

Palestinians on Wednesday accused Israel of attempting to assassinate the top Hamas military commander in the Gaza Strip, killing his wife and child, a day after negotiations for a permanent truce broke down amid renewed rocket fire from Gaza and retaliatory strikes by Israel.

The military wing of Hamas, the militant Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, said the Israeli missile strike targeted its top commander, Mohammed Deif, and “opened the gates to hell.” [Read more]

Iran lashes out at Egypt for blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza, Rafah closed | Jerusalem Post

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, lashed out on Wednesday at Egypt for delaying its humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

“Egypt has not issued a permit for Iranian planes carrying aid to Gaza despite the fact that it is now a long time Tehran has asked for this,” Abdollahian told Iran’s Fars News Agency. [Read more]

Eyes turn to Egypt, Algeria for possible Libya intervention | Al Monitor

Among its first acts, Libya’s newly inaugurated Council of Representatives called on all warring militias across the country to immediately cease fire or it will call on the international community to intervene to protect Libyan civilians. Unlike its predecessor, the notorious General National Congress (GNC), the parliament was up to its word. Barely three days after its cease-fire, the parliament, the highest credible legislative authority in Libya, voted for foreign intervention to protect Libyan civilians. Tripoli, the capital, has effectively been under siege since early July when the fighting erupted, leaving its residents hostages to a multitude of shortages of daily necessities, on top of the daily horror of indiscriminate shelling. [Read more]


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