Things Are Going Our Way in Iraq. Will Its Next Leader Be the Savior the U.S. Is Looking For? | Slate

This past week was a good one for American interests in Iraq. A team of U.S. military advisers arrived on Mount Sinjar to discover that the combined gains made by American airstrikes and Kurdish forces had helped free thousands of Yazidis who had been stranded there without food and water. That discovery greatly reduced fears of a possible genocide and, the Pentagon said late Wednesday, along with it the need for a targeted rescue mission, which could have risked a direct, on-the-ground confrontation between U.S. soldiers and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The following day the foreign policy windfall continued when Iraq’s embattled prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, announced that he’d drop his promised legal challenge and step down peacefully, an unexpected reversal that ended legitimate speculation of a devastating, destabilizing coup. [Read more]

On a Helicopter, Going Down: Inside a Lethal Crash in Iraq | New York Times

If it weren’t for Tuesday’s helicopter crash on Mount Sinjar, what would I have written about the plight of the Yazidis?

I would have started, I guess, with this mountain that everybody is talking about, to which the Yazidis have fled. It’s hard to overstate the size of this mountain, which is such a sacred place to the Yazidis, and the place they went to escape the terror that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been inflicting on them. It’s really more of a range than an individual mountain — 60 miles long, 5,000 feet high — and it is no wonder the relief operation, which riveted much of the world, posed such challenges. [Read more]

Why Iraq Is So Desperate to Retake Mosul Dam from ISIS | Time

When Saddam Hussein built the Mosul dam three decades ago it was meant to serve as a symbol of the strength of Iraq and his leadership. He was following a tradition of big, but often ill-considered infrastructure projects in some Middle East dictatorships that seem more like a muscle-flex by a country’s leader than a project for the people.

Now that dam—the country’s biggest, holding back 11 billion cubic meters of water and producing over 1000 megawatts of electricity—is a symbol of the strength and military prowess for the Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria (ISIS), which took control of the structure on Aug. 7. [Read more]

It’s time for the international criminal court to rule on the conduct of the Israeli army | The Independent

As of today, over 1,900 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces.  Almost a quarter of the dead are children. Overall the picture is one of carnage and collective punishment against Palestinians. It is an atrocity that led Baroness Warsi to resign as Foreign Office Minister last week after calling the British government’s approach in Gaza “morally indefensible”.

The Israeli military has targeted schools, hospitals and civilian homes in Gaza. The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for those responsible for the “gross violation of international law” to be brought to justice. [Read more]

Hamas says Israel must accept Palestinian demands or face long war | The Globe and Mail

Hamas rejected on Saturday as insufficient offers made in Cairo to Palestinian negotiators seeking to end Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, and raised the possibility of renewed fighting when the current truce expires.

Israel said it had also not yet accepted any proposals made in the Egyptian-mediated talks but, like the Palestinians, its envoys would continue attending them on Sunday. [Read more]

PKK Kurdish Terrorists Are Fighting IS Terrorists With U.S. Help | The Daily Beast

The Kurds’ deadly battle against jihadists from the self-declared Islamic State is raising prospects for a fully independent Kurdish nation. In the process, it’s pulling together Kurdish factions long deemed “terrorists” by the West to fight alongside the same peshmerga who are favored by Washington as the best hope for on-the-ground troops able to meet and defeat the savage forces that have declared a “caliphate” spanning large swathes of Syria and Iraq.

In recent weeks, fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who’ve waged guerrilla war in Turkey for generations and been branded terrorists by much of the world community, have overcome differences with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq that is heavily supported by the United States, several European countries and, indeed, by Turkey. Along with the PKK’s Syrian-Kurdish offshoot, the Democratic Union Party, they have joined forces to fend off an ISIS advance threatening Kurdish territory; they have come to the rescue of thousands of Yazidi refugees, besieged by ISIS fighters in the nearby Sinjar Mountains; and they are helping defend the many Americans in the Iraqi Kurdish capital. [Read more]


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