During a recent four-day trip to Marib with a group of Western journalists and researchers, I saw a town struggling for a sense of normalcy -- and even progress -- despite the collapsed country around it. The trip was organized by the Sana Center for Strategic Studies, a research institute focused on Yemen, and led by Farea al-Muslimi, an energetic young Yemeni scholar, who said he worried that the international community was forgetting about Yemen, to the peril of both. "We can't stop the war in Yemen right now, but at least we can cause more conversation about it," he said. "We want to bring the world to Yemen and bring Yemen to the world." Marib's unlikely success is partly a symptom of the near complete shattering of the Yemeni state, which has left regions to fend for themselves in providing life's basics for their people.
On Monday Egypt's top prosecutor, Nabil Sadek, ordered an investigation and by evening the police had arrested seven people, most of whom were said to have waved rainbow flags. An official at Mr. Sadek's office said the seven had been charged with "promoting sexual deviancy" and could be detained for 15 days. The state paper Al Ahram said one of the men had been detained for posting approvingly on Facebook about the concert. "Legal actions against him are underway," the paper reported. On Monday, one man who had been photographed with a rainbow flag at the concert wrote on Facebook, "Had I raised the ISIS flag I wouldn't be facing half of what I am facing now."
At the vast, windswept White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico earlier this year, nearly a dozen military contractors armed with laser guns, high-tech nets and other experimental systems met to tackle one of the Pentagon's most vexing counterterrorism conundrums: how to destroy the Islamic State's increasingly lethal fleet of drones. The militant group has used surveillance drones on the battlefield for more than two years. One important piece of that effort was the contest in New Mexico. It amounted to a Pentagon counter-drone bake-off, called the Hard Kill Challenge, to see which new classified technologies and tactics proved most promising. The results were decidedly mixed, and underscore the long-term problem confronting the Pentagon and its allies as it combats the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in a growing number of hot spots around the world beyond Iraq and Syria, including Yemen and Libya.
An unarmed Iranian drone buzzed an American Super Hornet fighter jet as it circled an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, Defense Department officials said on Tuesday. A statement released by the military's Central Command said that despite repeated radio calls demanding that Iran keep the drone clear of American flight operations in the vicinity of the aircraft carrier Nimitz, the Iranian vehicle came within 100 feet of the fighter jet, which had to swerve to avoid a collision. At the time of the incident, the jet had been in a holding pattern and was planning to land on the carrier, the statement said. "The dangerous maneuver created a collision hazard and is not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws," the statement said. The American military said this was the 13th "unsafe" or "unprofessional" interaction between American and Iranian maritime forces this year.
The targets of the Tuesday announcement included individuals or groups that the United States said had supported efforts by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps force to develop and produce drones, attack boats and other military equipment. The announcement also criticized Iran for its incarceration of American citizens and other foreigners on what it described as fabricated charges, an issue that has long been in irritant in the estranged relations between the countries. When the United States first imposed nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, he said, the Iranians had 200 centrifuges to enrich uranium, but when the Americans "started negotiating with us in order to remove those sanctions, we had 20,000 centrifuges." "So if you want to see the results of sanctions, just 19,800 centrifuges is the net result of sanctions," he said.
The civilians crowd together in a narrow alleyway, stranded near house-to-house fighting and surrounded by the stark devastation of western Mosul, where the battle against the Islamic State was supposed to be over. Video taken from a drone on Monday quickly confirmed that the battle to seize Mosul from the Islamic State continues, and that at least 100 civilians were still trapped by the fighting. For days since the government officially declared victory in the city, Times journalists and other witnesses in Mosul had confirmed that the sounds of intense fighting could still be heard from pockets within Western Mosul. Now, these drone images have provided the clearest account yet of a grinding battle that continues against the Islamic State's holdout force.
The contradiction opens a larger question, national security experts say, of what kind of broader strategy the Trump administration plans once the Islamic State -- now on the defensive -- is defeated in Syria. When President Barack Obama first began airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria three years ago, the instructions to the Pentagon seemed clear: Defeat the Islamic State through alliances with Syrians who oppose the brutal extremist group, but do not help them fight President Bashar al-Assad. Defense officials insist that does not amount to a greater United States involvement in the broader war. And with the fight now intensifying in eastern Syria's Euphrates River Valley -- home to oil reserves and water -- defense officials say that they are bracing for Mr. Assad and his backers to go all-out to reclaim that territory from the Islamic State.