This Ancient Religion Is Being Threatened With Extermination In Iraq | ThinkProgress

They represent the vast majority of a religion that rose alongside the world’s most popular faiths. Now, members of the Yazidi are cut off from the rest of the world, forced to choose between death at the hands of the militants threatening their families and the elements that have already ended the lives of dozens of children.

“There are children dying on the mountain, on the roads,” Marzio Babille, the Iraq representative for UNICEF, told the Washington Post. The situation that drove the Yazidi to the protection of Mount Sinjar is one that most analysts had hoped would not come to pass. Over the weekend, members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) managed to take the town of Sinjar from the Kurdish forces who held it. “There is no water, there is no vegetation, they are completely cut off and surrounded by Islamic State,” Babille continued. “It’s a disaster, a total disaster.” [Read more]

America’s Moral Obligations in Iraq | The Atlantic

I know, I know. As I have learned myself very painfully, there is an enormous amount the United States cannot do. It cannot solve Iraq’s political problems. It may not even be able to hold Iraq together. It cannot solve the horror in Syria. It cannot defeat the Taliban. It cannot stop Libya from descending into anarchy. But it can save the people in the Sinjar Mountains, both by dropping supplies to keep them alive, and by bombing ISIS so Kurdish forces can retake the areas nearby. And in so doing, it can stop genocide. Thankfully, Obama is doing just that.

Is there a risk that the U.S. will find itself sucked back into a costly and futile effort to impose our will on Iraq? Perhaps, but everything we know about Barack Obama suggests he will resist that fiercely. And so will most Americans. [Read more]

Palestine: The Pulse of Third World Revolt | truthout

As bombs drop on Gaza yet again, people across the world are turning to the streets in the tens of thousands to express solidarity with the Palestinians. The kind of global protest witnessed today against the ongoing occupation and destruction of native Palestinian life by a western-backed white settler colonial state is far away from being the latest wave of white sentimentality.

Palestine is uniting oppressed communities beyond colonial borders and awakening an urgent need for militancy in interconnected struggles against racial injustice, colonial subjugation and imperial domination. To be in solidarity with Palestine today is to be in revolt against centuries of western global dominance; it is to enact a politics of de-colonial liberation that makes other worlds possible. [Read more]

Gaza: a close look at Israeli strikes on UNRWA schools | The Guardian

As the conflict in Gaza deepened, tens of thousands – and then hundreds of thousands – of Palestinians were forced out of their homes and into shelters operated by the United Nations. Dozens of UN-operated schools were converted for the purpose. Eventually, almost 270,000 internally displaced people were crowded into 90 shelters in Gaza.

In the last two weeks of the fighting before this week’s ceasefire, UN schools began to come under fire. Six schools in all were hit. Hundreds of Palestinians at the schools were wounded and at least 47 were killed. A disproportionate number of those hurt were children or women. Of the 485,000 internally displaced, many had sought shelter in the schools after being warned by the Israeli military to leave their homes. [Read more]

Israel’s Fair-Weather Fans | New York Times

The Israeli song “Ein Li Eretz Acheret” is a curious tune. “I have no other country,” go the lyrics, “even if my land is on fire.”

It’s hard to find a Jewish Israeli who doesn’t identify with it. Lefty Israelis interpret it as a protest song. It was sung at demonstrations against the 1982 Lebanon War and vigils following the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Israelis on the right interpret it as a patriotic song about attachment to the land; they sang it after terrorist attacks and during the 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. [Read more]

Turkish PM tells female reporter to ‘know your place’ | The Telegraph

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, faced a new outcry on Friday over his attitude to the media and women after he branded a prominent female journalist a “shameless woman” and told her “to know your place”.

Just ahead of Sunday’s presidential election which he is clear favourite to win, Erdogan attacked Amberin Zaman, who writes for the Economist and the Turkish daily Taraf, over comments she made in a television debate. [Read more]

Why U.S. bombs are falling on Iraq and not Syria | Washington Post

If you had said, one year ago, that the United States would have been militarily involved in a Middle East crisis, few people would have batted an eyelid. President Obama had spent months trying to convince the United States public and Congress that the United States needed to intervene militarily in Syria.

However, the way that this intervention has panned out would surely surprise many. The United States is not intervening against Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian regime, as Obama had proposed. Instead, it is striking one of Assad’s biggest enemies, the extremist militia that calls itself the Islamic State. And this intervention is not in Syria, but in neighboring Iraq. [Read more]

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria | Council on Foreign Relations

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a predominantly Sunni jihadist group, seeks to sow civil unrest in Iraq and the Levant with the aim of establishing a caliphate—a single, transnational Islamic state based on sharia. The group emerged in the ashes of the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and the insurgency that followed provided it with fertile ground to wage a guerrilla war against coalition forces and their domestic allies.

After a U.S. counterterrorism campaign and Sunni efforts to maintain local security in what was known as the Tribal Awakening, AQI violence diminished from its peak in 2006–2007. But since the withdrawal of U.S. forces in late 2011, the group has increased attacks on mainly Shiite targets in what is seen as an attempt to reignite conflict between Iraq’s Sunni minority and the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Burgeoning violence in 2013 left nearly eight thousand civilians dead, making it Iraq’s bloodiest year since 2008, according to the United Nations. Meanwhile, in 2012 the group adopted its new moniker, ISIS (sometimes translated as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL) as an expression of its broadened ambitions as its fighters have crossed into neighboring Syria to challenge both the Assad regime and secular and Islamist opposition groups there. By June 2014, the group’s fighters had routed the Iraqi military in the major cities of Fallujah and Mosul and established territorial control and administrative structures on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border. [Read more]

Looking away from Libya | The Salt Lake Tribune

Three years after U.S. and NATO forces helped liberate Libya from the dictatorship of Moammar Gadhafi, the country is beginning to look a lot like another nation where an abrupt U.S. disengagement following a civil war led to chaos: Afghanistan in the 1990s. In Libya, heavily armed militias are battling for control of Tripoli and Benghazi as well as the international airport. The United States, France and other Western governments involved in the 2011 military intervention have evacuated their diplomats and abandoned their embassies. A U.N. mission that was supposed to help broker political accords also left. [Read more]

Not us too | The Economist

ON AUGUST 7th only a few vehicles could be seen leaving the besieged town of Arsal on Lebanon’s border with Syria: tanks ferrying exhausted, chain-smoking Lebanese soldiers, microbuses packed with refugees and ambulances escorted by Lebanese army intelligence men. Two Syrian government warplanes circled ominously over the surrounding hills.

For almost a week Arsal, a Lebanese Sunni Muslim town whose residents have deep ties to Syria’s rebels, has been under the control of jihadists from Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, and the Islamic State, an even more extremist group that grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq. On August 2nd fewer than a hundred fighters crossed the border from Syria, joining fighters already inside the town and on the porous border. The move was prompted by the Lebanese security forces arrest of Imad Jomaa, a commander for Jabhat al-Nusra who had recently pledged loyalty to the rival Islamic State. The groups ransacked police stations and army barracks and kidnapped dozens of Lebanese security personnel. [Read more]

Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, ISIS and Hezbollah | Al Arabiya

The additional $1 billion which Saudi Arabia offered to the Lebanese army this week is not a gift but a political act that comes within the remit of curbing the current strife in Lebanon and its surroundings.

Saudi Arabia could have offered this financial aid to build up a Lebanese Sunni militia and would have had many reasons for doing so, from fighting the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to deterring the Shiite Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad’s intelligence forces. [Read more]

 

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