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Daily Brief: ISIS Claims Attack in Yemen That Kills Dozens

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August 29, 2016

Daily News Brief

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ISIS Claims Attack in Yemen That Kills Dozens

The self-proclaimed Islamic State took responsibility (Reuters) for an attack on the Yemeni port city of Aden that killed dozens on Monday. At least sixty people were killed in the attack on a recruiting base in the city of Aden (AFP), which hosts the internationally recognized Yemeni government as it battles rebels and jihadists throughout the country. Saudi authorities said that Houthi rebels in Yemen launched a rocket that killed two girls in the Saudi border town of Najran on Sunday (WSJ), a day after a similar attack killed a child in Saudi Arabia's southern border region. Border attacks have risen following the collapse of peace talks hosted by Kuwait and the United Nations between rebels and the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Saudi Arabia, which backs Hadi, leads a coalition fighting militants in Yemen.


"Militant groups such as al-Qaeda and Isis have expanded their reach by exploiting the chaos in Yemen amid the brutal Saudi Arabia-led air and ground campaign which aims to reassert government control after Shia Houthi rebels ousted president Abd Mansoor Hadi in 2015. Pro-government militias, backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have repelled Houthi forces from the south, but militants and tribal backers still operate in vast tracts of barren desert and mountainous regions of the south," Simeon Kerr writes for the Financial Times.

"Yemen and its people deserve to have their humanitarian issues improved and find a peace settlement that encourages the formation of an inclusive political system. Failure to do so would perpetuate moral insolvency on the part of the Saudis and their coalition partners, threaten to further destabilize Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula, and enable al-Qaida and ISIL to continue to flourish." writes Sultan Barakat for Brookings' Markaz blog.

"Sectarian strife of this type is a relatively new phenomenon in Yemen. Zaydis and Shafi'is have intermarried and worshipped together at one another’s mosques. In fact, Yemen’s Shia, the Zaydis, had become so doctrinally close to Sunni Islam that some scholars referred to them as the fifth school of Sunni Islam. The war is changing that. Almost all sides now see themselves as taking part in a sectarian war, which has only further fractured the country," Gregory Johnsen writes for the CTC Sentinel.


China Announces New Surface-to-Air Missile System

The People's Liberation Army Air Force announced a third generation surface-to-air missile system that it said was combat-ready (SCMP). The announcement follows Chinese protests over a U.S.-developed anti-missile system to be deployed in South Korea.  

SINGAPORE: Singapore confirmed forty-one cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus that officials said were transmitted locally (BBC). The virus is linked to severe birth defects in newborns.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the spread of the Zika virus.


Kerry Arrives in Bangladesh for Security Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said "there is evidence" that the self-proclaimed Islamic State has contact with at least eight "entities" around the world, including in South Asia (Al Jazeera). Kerry made the remarks on a visit to Dhaka (BDNews 24) to discuss security following recent attacks.

UZBEKISTAN: Uzbek President Islam Karimov's daughter said he was in stable condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage (Reuters). Karimov has ruled the country since the fall of the Soviet Union.


Iran Arrests Nuclear Negotiator for Spying

An Iranian judiciary spokesman said that a member of the nuclear negotiating team was arrested on charges of spying (Islamic Republic News Agency). The deal, which President Hassan Rouhani brokered last year, saw international sanctions lifted in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program (Reuters).


Prominent Family Announces Sale of South African Assets

A prominent business family in South Africa announced they would sell all of their South African shareholdings (FT) by the end of the year. The Gupta family faces allegations of cronyism and undue influence (Guardian) over President Jacob Zuma, whose finance minister will reportedly be charged with graft this week (WSJ).

NIGERIA: President Muhammadu Buhari said the government is ready to negotiate with the Islamist militant organization Boko Haram, including releasing prisoners, in order to rescue abducted girls (Africa News). The militant group recently said in a video that they may be willing to release the remaining Chibok schoolgirls through a prisoner swap.

CFR's John Campbell discusses the leadership struggle inside Boko Haram in this article for the Cipher Brief.


Erdogan Vows to Continue Anti-ISIS Operations in Syria

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said (Al Jazeera) Turkey will fight any terror organizations inside or near its borders. Last week Turkish tanks helped Syrian rebels seize the Syrian border town of Jarablus from the self-proclaimed Islamic State last week (AP). Erdogan spoke from Gaziantep, where a suicide bomber killed dozens at a Kurdish wedding earlier this month. On Sunday Turkey's military drove deeper into Syria to seize territory from Kurdish-aligned forces (Reuters). The United States called clashes between Turkish armed forces and Kurdish forces "unacceptable."

SPAIN: The ruling conservative party accepted a package of anticorruption measures and judicial overhaul in a deal with centrist Ciudadanos (WSJ) in return for the party's support for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's bid for a second term as prime minister.


Colombia Cease-Fire Takes Effect

A cease-fire between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group came into effect at midnight Monday (BBC). The deal follows four years of peace talks in Cuba between the parties.

This CFR Backgrounder examines the history of the FARC in Colombia.

BRAZIL: President Dilma Rousseff, suspended from office since May as she is tried for impeachment, will testify (Guardian) Monday before the Senate. The Senate is expected to vote on removing her from office in the upcoming days.

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