Foreign affairs

Hugh Carnegy in Paris

France, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told parliament on Wednesday, has never faced a greater terrorist threat than that posed by homegrown jihadis who have fought alongside Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq

By Robert Wright

There are big differences between Quebec – Canada’s French-speaking province – and Scotland. But they have one big thing in common – separatist movements that would like to take them out of their respective wider countries to form separate states. 

Roula Khalaf

Tomahawk missile being fired from a US warship. Photo: US Navy (Roderick Eubanks)

Syrians’ pleas for western military help to stop the Assad regime have gone unanswered for the past three years, no matter how brutal the government’s methods of repression.

More than 200,000 deaths later, the US has entered the Syrian fray with the first air strikes as it also prepares to begin training and equipping a rebel force in Syria. The goal, in this case, is not to take on the regime, but to confront a jihadi menace that has spread spectacularly to Iraq, and has begun to pose a broader threat to the region.

But if fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the group known as Isis, might just prevent Iraq from breaking up, the chances of this campaign bringing peace to Syria are more remote than ever. 

By Gideon Rachman

In 1990 Kenichi Ohmae, a management consultant, published a book called The Borderless World, whose title captured the spirit of globalisation. Over the next almost 25 years developments in business, finance, technology and politics seemed to confirm the inexorable decline of borders and the nation states they protected.

• An oil smuggling network created to evade UN sanctions on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq is being exploited by the Islamist group Isis.

• In Libya hardline Islamists are pushing their agenda amid the chaos they created.

• Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs lifts the veil on its relationship with the Gaddafi-era Libyan sovereign wealth fund.

• The New York Review of Books rounds up the latest books on Iraq: The outlaw state.

• China is risking a ‘balance sheet recession’ as the impact of its stimulus measures wane.

Linda Tirado on why globalisation and technology are to blame when the poor are accused of failing to make long term plans. 

Tony Barber

The No victory in Scotland’s independence referendum demonstrates, once again, the wisdom of the aphorism about historical change contained in The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel about Italian unification in the mid-19th century: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” 

 

Tony Barber

At school we used to be taught in history lessons that Portugal was England’s oldest ally (“Please, sir, Treaty of Windsor, 1386!”). Oh dear, oh dear. How ever will the Anglo-Portuguese alliance survive the wickedly humorous indictment of popular English culture just published by João Magueijo, a Portuguese-born professor of theoretical physics at Imperial College, London?

The professor has lived for more than 20 years in England and clearly likes something about the place, for he seems in no hurry to leave. But when he describes his travels around the British Isles, he writes with the appalled fascination of an entomologist confronted with an unwholesome species of beetle. 

Gideon Rachman

A friend of mine in Scotland who supports the UK has just sent me an e-mail about his impressions of the campaign ahead of the vote on Scottish independence on Thursday. I think it is an evocative and alarming piece of writing, so here is the email in full: 

Marina Silva, a political outsider who is threatening to end the 12-year reign of Brazil’s powerful centre-left Workers’ party, is quenching Brazilians’ thirst for change.

Qatar’s foreign minister has rejected claims Qataris are funding Isis in Syria and tells the west to back moderate Sunni fighting the Assad regime.

• Islamist extremists such as Isis are exploiting the conventions of X-rated movies in their own hardcore film productions, writes The Atlantic.

• Russian academic Sergey Karaganov argues that the delusions of a west that has become a directionless gaggle are responsible for triggering the conflict over Ukraine.

• An independent Scotland would face running a gauntlet to gain admission to the EU.