A Sunni State in Iraq?

By on 6.12.14 | 4:08PM

With the capture of Mosul, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams, or ISIS, gained American weapons and 500 billion Iraqi dinars, which at $429 million, reportedly makes the organization the most well-funded terrorist network in the world. Gold bullion reserves were also raided, adding an as yet uncalculated amount of wealth to the group’s funding, which now exceeds the operating budget of even al Qaeda. Additionally, ISIS freed about 1,000 inmates from Mosul’s central prison, and many joined its militia.

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“Waiting to Die” in Iraq: A Costly History Lesson

By on 6.11.14 | 4:31PM

"We are waiting to die," Mahmoud al Taie, an Iraqi dentist, told the Wall Street Journal as he prepared to flee Mosul. If he does, a country that desperately needs every upright citizen it has will have lost yet another health professional.

Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, which at least 125 American soldiers died liberating from Saddam Hussein's forces, fell on Wednesday. Half a million Iraqis are fleeing to the Kurds, who have set up their own government and army.

Mosul is now in the well-armed hands of a militant group known as ISIS or ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The radical group's expansion from Syria into Iraq now poses even more of a threat, especially because it will have access to supplies and manpower from Mosul, according to Reuters.

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Time For a DTR With Pakistan

By on 6.9.14 | 3:43PM

A relationship may be sown by the seeds of spontaneity, but sooner or later it comes to a DTR—the new small-talk meaning "define the relationship."

It might be time to have a DTR with Pakistan. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday:

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for attacking Karachi's Jinnah International Airport, which left at least 28 people dead, saying it was seeking revenge for recent Pakistani military airstrikes against them. ...Seemi Jamali, a spokeswoman for Karachi's Jinnah hospital, where the dead and injured were brought, said 18 airport employees and security personnel were killed by the attackers. In addition, 24 were injured, she said. Security officials said that 10 militants were also killed—seven were shot dead, and three blew themselves up with suicide vests.

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Carbons Emissions in China: Is This the Time?

By on 6.5.14 | 10:43AM

The climate change police have been rounding up the usual suspects this week, and states are starting to pull apart the new EPA regulations that aim to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S.

At most, these plans are expected to reduce global carbon emissions by a grand total of 4 percent by 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal. Experts admit that American efforts will be completely eclipsed by the developing world, but others counter that the ultimate goal of this complex regulatory mountain is to set an example for poorer countries, especially China. Reported the Journal

"No matter what your view of climate change, these [U.S.] reductions will be dwarfed by increased emissions in other parts of the world," said Stephen Eule, a vice president at the Institute for 21st Century Energy, part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Super Tuesday in the Middle East and the Continuing Story in Libya

By on 6.3.14 | 5:38PM

If you need a break from the congressional primaries, turn your attention to the Middle East, where the fifth Arab country is holding a major election since mid-April. Elections are already complete in Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt, and Palestine had a new unity government sworn in earlier this week. 

The democratic spirit has touched down even in Syria, where dictator Bashar al-Assad is running his most persuasive get-out-the-vote campaign ever among the remaining citizens who have not fled the country, taken up arms against him, or been killed. All the elective activity has led Paul Salem of the non-partisan Middle East Institute to reflect:

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Palestinian Groups Unite to Israel’s Dismay

By on 6.2.14 | 5:54PM

The reunion was highly unexpected, but governments can form quickly in the Middle East. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are back together for now, at least politically speaking. According to the AP:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a national unity government Monday, formally ending a crippling seven-year split with his Islamic militant Hamas rivals but drawing Israeli threats of retaliation.

The formation of the unity government and Israel's tough response are part of a wider competition between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for international support since the collapse of U.S.-led peace talks between them in April. 

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Egypt: Now Truly Under Military Rule

By on 5.29.14 | 4:26PM

Egypt has elected a new president, giving the Egyptian army official control of the government to add to its hold on internal security, media, and the economy.

Former general Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi received 92 percent of the vote. That was out of a total of 23 million votes, well up from winner Mohammed Morsi's 12 million in 2012. Voter turnout, however, was 46 percent, compared to 52 percent in the 2012 election, and el-Sissi had been hoping to prove his legimitacy to the world with a well-attended election. To make matters worse, most of these votes came on days two and three of the election, after the state began shaming, bribing, and otherwise coercing people into voting. According to the AP:

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India’s Upset Election Could Spell Promise or Persecution For Religious Liberty

By on 5.29.14 | 12:19PM

India elected a new party into power last week, and only time will tell whether the hopeful predictions of economic growth or the gloomy portents of religious persecution are more correct.

The election surprised analysts because the BJP party—which was so small it has not even had minority governing power since 2004—took 282 seats and the right to elect a prime minister, Narendra Modi. Modi was elected on his record as a decisive leader who turned around the economy of the Gujarat state as its governor.

The BJP's victory was remarkable as an example of a violence- and corruption-free political upset in the world's largest democracy. But Dr. Timothy Shah, whose father hails from Gujarat, finds it worrying.

Modi’s campaign focused primarily on economic issues, but it is ultimately a right-wing Hindu nationalist party. Shah worries that the people’s natural desire for better economic leadership as their country grows could lead to “grave and unintended consequences for democracy and religious liberty.”

"Modi was probably personally complicit in a pogrom that killed 1,000 to 2,000 Muslims in 2002," Shah said during a Heritage Foundation panel yesterday.

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Letter From London

UKIP If You Want To

By 5.23.14

This coming Thursday will likely see one of the most significant electoral results in Britain’s modern political history: the triumph of the United Kingdom Independence Party in the European Parliament elections.

Nigel Farage’s fiercely anti-European Union party consistently tops polls of likely voters, and, what is more, it looks increasingly likely to make a splash at next year’s general election.

Despite this, I believe that any American enthusiasm for the rise of this new political force in Britain is deeply misguided.

While I am sure many readers will empathize with UKIP’s ostensible aim of giving “the Establishment” a bloody nose, it seems apparent that their message is a flawed one. UKIP is not the libertarian party it pretends to be, and its leaders and members are not worthy personalities for elected office.

Before UKIP rose to the level of national prominence it now enjoys, the party’s activist base was allowed to be a little more eclectic. As such, many libertarians, who were deeply disappointed by the combination of statist economics and social conservatism espoused by Labour and the Conservatives, saw UKIP as a potential political home. 

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The Plight of Arab Israeli Christians

By on 5.22.14 | 3:53PM

Arab Israeli Christians of military age will now receive a non-binding invitation to volunteer for the Israeli army, partly because of efforts by an Arab Israeli priest.

The Greek Orthodox priest, Father Gabriel Naddaf of Nazareth, has faced tremendous opposition from the Christian and Muslim communities alike, some of whom see this as Israel's latest attempt to "divide and conquer" along religious lines, according to the Washington Free Beacon. Christians represent 2 percent of the Israeli population and 10 percent of Arab Israelis, but the number of Christians in the Israeli army has tripled to 150 since Father Naddaf's campaign began.

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