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inFOCUS Quarterly

Summer 2014

America's Global Withdrawal

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Sinai Militants Kill Four Israeli "Spies"

Egyptian jihadists released a video on Thursday showing the beheading of four "Israeli informants." Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM), a terrorist organization operating in Sinai, claimed responsibility for executing the men, whose bodies were found in the coastal province of Sheikh Zuweid on August 20.

A screenshot from the YouTube video. (Photo: YouTube)

According to the masked extremists in the video, the captives provided intelligence on rocket launches from Sinai into Israel during Operation Protective Edge last month. A subsequent attack by an IDF UAV reportedly killed three ABM militants in Egyptian territory on July 23rd.

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By Michael Johnson  |  August 28, 2014 at 5:26 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

U.S. Surprised at Egyptian and UAE Airstrikes in Libya

Unnamed American officials voiced surprise on Monday over a series of airstrikes commenced by U.S. allies last week in Tripoli, according to a report by the BBC. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched the attacks on pro-Islamist militias that had recently gained ground in Libya's capital.

During a briefing on Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki denounced Egypt and the UAE's intervention, saying it heightened regional tensions and would further exacerbate Libya's already divisive civil war. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told state media that "no Egyptian aircraft participated in military action inside Libya" and the UAE refused to comment on raids that killed 13 Islamist fighters.

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By Michael Johnson  |  August 27, 2014 at 10:46 am  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Protesters Gather in Islamabad as Talks Fail

Imran Khan, the leader of Pakistan's largest opposition party, pulled out of talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday, calling on him to resign. Khan's actions set the stage for continued political turmoil as thousands of anti-government activists gathered outside government buildings in Islamabad.

Each side blamed the other for the breakdown of talks meant to resolve allegations of fraud during elections in May 2013. Khan's party, Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said that it has exhausted all its political options to contest the poll and is now calling for mass civil disobedience. Sharif, on the other hand, suggested establishing a judicial commission to investigate the alleged vote rigging.

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By Michael Johnson  |  August 21, 2014 at 3:56 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Hamas Fires at Israel, Jerusalem Responds

Terrorists in Gaza violated a ceasefire on Tuesday, launching rockets at Israel eight hours before a the temporary truce was set to expire. The IDF responded with renewed airstrikes on Hamas terror targets.

By Wednesday night, Israeli officials estimated over 150 projectiles had been fired from the small coastal enclave. Long range rocket launchings prompted warning sirens across central Israel, including Jerusalem. One rocket hit a highway in the Tel Aviv, but no injuries were reported. In response the IDF's Homefront Command reopened bomb shelters within approximately 50 miles of Gaza.

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By Michael Johnson  |  August 20, 2014 at 3:35 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Erdogan Wins Turkish Presidency

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Turkey's first direct election for President on Sunday, allowing him to embark on further constitutional reform. The polarizing Prime Minister will be sworn into his new role on August 28th, with his ruling Islamist AK party nominating a successor.

According to preliminary results, Erdogan secured about 52% of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff election. Local opinion polls had expected Erdogan to win, outpacing two other contestants from Kurdish and Nationalist parties. In a victory speech to the nation, the Prime Minister struck a more reconciliatory tone declaring the start of a new era in Turkish history and a pledge to embrace all citizens.

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By Michael Johnson  |  August 12, 2014 at 4:53 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

New Turmoil in Baghdad While IS Advances

Troops and tanks surged into Baghdad's Green Zone over the weekend, following new infighting between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and recently elected President Fuad Masum. The latest political turmoil in Iraq came as Islamic State (IS) militants took control of Jalawla, near the Iranian border.

Late last week, President Masum signaled his intent to nominate Haider al-Abadi, a member of Maliki's "Rule of Law" party, as Prime Minister. But in a televised address on Sunday night, Maliki suggested he would use his current authority to stay in power for third term. The Prime Minister threatened Masum with legal action if Abadi's nomination continued forward and suggested the Army could be called on to "protect the constitution." Shortly thereafter, Maliki repositioned troops loyal to him close to government buildings, establishing additional roadblocks and checkpoints. Western officials expressed concern over a looming coup.

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By Michael Johnson  |  August 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Russia Bans Some Food Imports from Europe

Moscow banned certain food imports from the West on Thursday in retaliation for recently imposed U.S. and EU sanctions on Russia. The move escalates the Kremlin's row with the West over the Russian government's arming of Ukrainian separatists.

According to a speech given by Prime Minister Medvedev, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree stopping the import "of beef, pork, fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products"  from the EU, U.S., Australia, Canada, and Norway for one year.

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By Yael Rein  |  August 7, 2014 at 4:49 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

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