Greater Middle East
Egypt's chief prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, was killed June 29 in Cairo by a car-bomb attack on his convoy. Barakat's vehicle was attacked by a car outfitted with explosives that was remotely detonated when his motorcade left his home in Heliopolis. The prosecutor's death marks the country's first assassination of a senior official in 25 years, and seems to be the result of retribution attempts by Islamic militants in response to the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. It is believed that Barakat became a target as a result of his role as prosecutor against many Brotherhood members and other Islamists, including former President Mohammed Morsi. An militant group calling itself "Popular Resistance in Giza" claimed responsibility for the remote detonation of the car bomb. While the authorities suspect the Brotherhood for the attack, the organization has denied all involvement.
In a grisly incident on the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights last week, Druze villagers attacked an Israeli military ambulance, killing one of two Syrian casualties it was carrying. The attack was apparently retaliation for the Nusra Front massacre of Druze villagers in Syria a week earlier. Al-Monitor reports that the IDF has launched an aggressive "information campaign" to convince the Golan Druze that Israel is not backing the Nusra Front. Media reports (Reuters, Forward) have been vague on who the casualties in the ambulance actually were, but blogger Michael Karadjis identified the murdered patient as Munthir Khalil from the "Revolutionary Command Council in Quneitra and Golan," a wing of the Free Syrian Army's Southern Front. Karadjis emphasizes that the Southern Front months ago issued a declaration cutting off all cooperation with the Nusra Front, and offered refuge to fleeing villagers after the massacre. He calls the incident "deadly consequences" of the "fairy tale" that Israel is backing Nusra.
Militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) attacked the Hakkari Dağlıca military base in Turkey's far east with machine guns and mortar shells on the night of June 29. The Turkish military said the assailants fled when soldiers returned fire, and no casualties were reported. (Today's Zaman) That same day, the Turkish military clashed with Kurdish villagers in Roboski, also in the country's southeast near the border with Iraq and Syria. At least two villagers were wounded in the clashes, which started when local Kurds gathered to protest amassing of Turkish forces in the area. (Revolution News)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called a meeting of his National Security Council (MGK) June 29—being widely portrayed in the Turkish media as preparation to establish a "buffer zone" in northern Syria in response to Kurdish territorial gains against ISIS. Over the weekend, Erdogan told reporters: "I am saying this to the whole world: We will never allow the establishment of a state on our southern border in the north of Syria. We will continue our fight in that respect whatever the cost may be." Turkish newspapers including the pro-government Yeni Safak are reporting that the military has received orders to seize a strip 110 kilometers long and 33 kilometers deep along the border. One anonymous official told Hurriyet Daily News there is a "need" to "prevent more clashes between the ISIL and the Kurdish forces led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), prevent the PYD from taking full control over the Turkish-Syrian border and create a safe zone against a new wave of refugees on Syrian territory, no longer in Turkey." The PYD is the Kurdish political party whose military wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), have been making gains against ISIS.
Seemingly coordinated attacks left over 140 dead across four countries June 26, in what social media users are dubbing "Bloody Friday." In France, an assailant drove his van into a factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, outside Lyon, causing an explosion that killed 37 and wounded a similar number. His boss, the owner of a delivery firm, was found beheaded alongside flags containing Islamic inscriptions in Arabic. (BBC News) At least 39, mostly foreigners, were killed and nearly as many injured as a lone gunman opened fire on a beach in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse before being gunned down himself. (BBC News) In Somalia, dozens of soldiers were killed as al-Shabaab overran an African Union base in the village of Lego, northwest of Mogadishu, (The Guardian) And an explosion tore through a Shi'ite mosque in Kuwait City after Friday prayers, killing at least eight and wounding several others. (Al Jazeera) The attacks come amid the holy month of Ramadan, and days before the anniversary of the declaration of a "caliphate" by ISIS.
ISIS, retreating before an advance by Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria, launched a new attack on the Kurdish town of Kobani June 25, with a wave of at least three car bombs as well as random shootings of inhabitants, leaving 45 civilians dead. "Groups of ISIS fighters are driving around Kobani's alleys and streets killing civilians," a local Kurdish commander told Rudaw news agency. CNN said ISIS militants disguised as Kurdish fighters infiltrated the town. Eyewitnesses said some gunmen spoke Kurdish and knocked on doors telling locals to come out. "People rushed out and were killed," one resident said. Al Jazeera also reported that ISIS fighters were wearing Kurdish and Free Syrian Army uniforms. Kobani was liberated from an ISIS siege in January after months of heavy fighting. The town became a powerful symbol of resistance, some calling it the "Kurdish Stalingrad."
The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic released a report June 23 stating that both government and rebel forces are targeting civilians in Syria's civil war. The report finds: "Indiscriminate attacks on civilian-inhabited areas are committed across Syria by most, if not all, of the warring parties. The Government, with its superior firepower and control of the skies, inflicts the most damage in its indiscriminate attacks on cities, towns, villages and neighbourhoods not under its control. Non-State armed groups continue to launch attacks on Government-held localities, usually from nearby ground positions, causing civilian deaths and injuries." It also states: "New reports were received of the use of chlorine and/or phosgene gas during attacks on the towns in Idlib governorate, including Saraqib, Sarmin, and Idlib city, in March and April 2015. These incidents are currently under investigation."
A Bahraini court June 16 sentenced prominent Shi'ite leader Sheikh Ali Salman (official profile) to four years in prison for insulting the Interior Ministry, inciting others to break the law, and inciting hatred against Sunnis. Salman, secretary-general of al-Wefaq political opposition group, was arrested in late December for speeches made between 2012 and 2014. Salman was found not guilty of inciting violence and calling for the overthrow of the monarch. Had he been convicted for those offenses, Salman could have faced a life sentence in prison.