The Hill Talk’s Glance at the Globe

ISIS leader severely injured in airstrike:  U.S. and Iraqi intelligence officials are confirming a June 2017 Russian claim the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS), Ibrahim Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, was severely injured in an airstrike carried out by the Russians against Raqqa last summer.

The injuries sustained by al-Baghdadi were so severe, he was forced to cede control of the terror group for five months.

According to intelligence gathered from ISIS captives, al-Baghdadi is believed to be receiving treatment at an ISIS hideout somewhere on the Syria-Iraq border.

U.S. airstrike in Syria kills Russian contractors: On-the-ground sources said approximately 300 Russian military contractors were injured or killed following a U.S. airstrike on pro-Assad forces in Deir el-Zour Governorate on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

The Russian Foreign Ministry admitted Thursday five of the estimated 80–100 casualties were citizens of Russia.

The U.S. claimed it carried out a series of airstrikes against the pro-Assad forces in retaliation for an attack on American positions.

Until Thursday, neither the Pentagon nor the Kremlin had acknowledged Russian deaths in the airstrike.

South Africa’s Zuma resigns presidency:  Bowing to intense pressure from within his own party, embattled South African President Jacob Zuma stepped down from power on Wednesday.

Zuma had been battling persistent accusations his terms were plagued by corruption and charges he was swayed on political matters by the influential Gupta family.

Faced with a “no-confidence” vote threat delivered by the African National Party, Zuma resigned in a televised address.

Brazilian military assumes control over Rio’s violent streets:  The upward trajectory of gang violence on the streets of Rio de Janeiro has forced President Michel Temer to sign a decree empowering the Brazilian army to assume police functions in the city.

After reaching an all-time high of over 6,000 homicides in 2007, violent crimes and murders dropped in the period up to 2016.  2017 saw a return to near-2007 levels with over 5,700 homicides.

Violence has soared in Brazil following an intense recession which has left the government unable to pay police salaries.

Indictment recommended for Israel’s Netanyahu:  Authorities investigating allegations of corruption against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have recommended the decade-long office holder be charged in two cases of bribery.

Officials say Netanyahu accepted gifts of jewelry and clothing valued at over $280,000 in from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer in exchange for political favor resulting in approximately $300,000 worth of tax breaks for Milchan.

A second allegation includes Netanyahu’s role in a form of retribution in which he allegedly conspired with a publishing ally to restrict the circulation of a newspaper owned by a political friend’s rival, namely Sheldon Adelson.

Netanyahu dismissed the recommendations for charges as politically motivated and vowed to continue to lead Israel.  A poll released Wednesday shows 43 percent of Israeli voters believe Netanyahu should at least temporarily step down from office.

An estimated 1,000–2,000 assembled in Tel Aviv Friday calling on the prime minister to resign.

 

[The Duran] [Reuters] [AP via Bloomberg] [The Citizen] [BBC] [Haaretz]