Ongoing Disaster in Iraq | OpEdNews

The American public is now wringing it collective hands over the ISIS threat in Iraq and Syria. But a more important concern for the nation might be in coming to grips with how ISIS actually came to be; and to do that it is first necessary to understand what was behind W’s 2003 war in Iraq. Most Americans who have an opinion believe that the outcome of the 2003 Iraq war resulted from a combination of bad planning and incompetent execution — a lack of a coherent strategy and tactics which operated at almost constant cross purposes. Some who are more inclined to excuse the Bush administration insist that all would have been well if Obama had just left the troops in place. But the Obama administration negotiated furiously to keep the troops in Iraq and only reluctantly agreed to remove the troops when the Iraqis refused to enter into a status of forces agreement which would give U.S. forces carte blanche freedom from Iraqi law. So it is difficult to see just how Obama’s policies differed markedly from those of Bush. [Read more]

What does Kobane mean for the international community? | openDemocracy

For local groups of Kurdish fighters keeping IS at bay, the numbers of IS fighters flooding into the town has created a significant drain on resources. Whilst accepting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees escaping the Syrian civil war, thousands of Arab refugees fleeing IS clashes in Iraq, and thousands of Yezidi Kurds fleeing IS capture, Iraqi Kurdistan now faces the prospect of accepting refugees from Kobani. Despite maintaining a stronghold within Northern Iraq and steadily progressing against IS’ attempts to take Mosul, so far the only international support given to the Iraqi Kurds has been a series of airstrikes. Kurdish Pershmerga fighters are insistent that without the aid of better arms to help them to combat forces armed with advanced equipment which originated from the US military, strategic cities such as Rabia may be captured by IS. [Read more]

Ghoncheh Ghavami: The Shifting Goal Posts of Iran’s Hardliners | Human Rights Watch

“[The trial] lasted an hour and a half… The judge in the case is supposed to issue his ruling next week. I hope that next week, by this time, my nightmare will be over and my daughter will be in my arms. Pray for me.”

These were the words posted on Susan Moshtaghian’s Facebook page on October 14, after a revolutionary court in Tehran tried her daughter, Ghoncheh Ghavami, on national security charges. Authorities arrested Ghavami, a dual Iranian-British national, along with around 20 others who held a peaceful protest in June against the official ban that prevented them from attending an international volleyball match in Tehran’s Azadi Sports Complex. [Read more]

Dealing with Iran | Jerusalem Post

Expert-level talks between Iran and the six world powers (the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) are scheduled to resume today.

Unfortunately, as the November 24 deadline approaches, pessimism has grown regarding the chances that the negotiations will bring about their express goal: preventing the Islamic Republic from developing a nuclear weapon and assuring Iran’s program is exclusively peaceful. [Read more]

Libya After Qaddafi: The Unstable Terrorist Haven That America Has Mostly Forgotten | thinkprogress

Three years ago, rebel fighters killed Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi — an event that captured the world’s attention and was billed as a new day for the North African nation.

“This marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya,” President Barack Obama said from the White House Rose Garden on the day of Qaddafi’s death. “[They] now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya.”

But charting that new, democratic destiny after the death of an erratic dictator – in addition to more than 30,000 Libyan people who were killed in what became a six-month long civil war has not been easy. In fact, it’s left Libya teetering on the brink of war against Islamist militants – one that neither the country’s government or Western nations seem inclined to fight. Not doing so might leave the oil-rich nation to the designs of increasingly powerful – and ambitious – militants. A fate that may even prove worse than the brutal, 42-year long regime Libyans fought so hard to themselves of. [Read more]

What do Kobani airdrops mean for regional politics? | Al Monitor

On Oct. 19, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that it had conducted multiple airdrops near the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, which has remained under siege by Islamic State (IS) fighters for more than a month. CENTCOM said US C-13 cargo planes had made multiple drops of arms, ammunition, and medical supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq. The move is set to have a profound effect on regional balances between Turkey, the Kurds and the United States that will likely reverberate in Tehran and in Damascus as well.

For several weeks now, the US and its allies have been bombing IS positions around Kobani. But the delivery of weapons takes the de facto alliance between the Syrian Kurds and the United States to a new level. [Read more]

Libya is grasping for a helping hand | Al Arabiya

Somalia and Syria combined. That’s what Libya could easily be heading towards if the region and the international community aren’t not careful. But rather than focus on the very real threat of that reality, far too many are prioritising rogue generals. Quite. The reorientation of policy towards this exceedingly strategic North African country is not a luxury the international community should consider – but a necessity that it has no choice but to pursue.

One ought to be clear about what the crisis in Libya is not about. It is not, for example, about a “war on terror.” That sort of approach is not remotely helpful to pushing forward on the overcoming of terrorist groups like Ansar al-Sharia – the “war on terror” dynamic simply blurs the lines between disparate groups, and ensures that other types of dissent that do not pass into illegal activity are criminalised. The “you are with us or against us” rhetoric, worldwide, has been tried and it fails to bring about the expected results every time. [Read more]


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