A fighter from the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (Isis) brandishes the Isis flag on the streets of Mosul (Getty)
At Baghdad airport, the creeping sense of dread is apparent. As harried passengers are ferried between multiple searches, drivers of the black SUVs chartered to take them into the ultra-secure facility from a boarding point outside the airport are nervous. Read more
Isis pushes Iraq to the brink
Isis’ lightning offensive has pushed Iraq to the brink of outright civil war and a return to the murderous sectarian bloodshed that nearly tore it apart in 2006. President Obama is considering limited military intervention to take on the terrorists but only if there are signs that Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Shia prime minister does more to reach out to moderate Sunnis and Kurds. Geoff Dyer,USdiplomatic correspondent, Roula Khalaf, foreign editor, and Guy Chazan, energy editor, join Ben Hall
By Gideon Rachman
The west’s instinctive reaction when an international crisis breaks out is to ask two questions: what should we do; and who are the good guys? Read more
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks on on the Middle East in London on April 23, 2014. (Getty)
There are plenty of people who will simply refuse to listen to anything that Tony Blair has to say about the Middle East – on the grounds that he is an idiot or a war criminal, or some combination of the two. I am not one of them. On the contrary, I think that the speech that Blair has just given on the Middle East is worth reading. He is intelligent, passionate and well-informed. But I still think he is wrong or, at the least, unconvincing, on a number of crucial points. Read more
By Richard McGregor in Washington
After sensitive details of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden began leaking, an infuriated Robert Gates, then secretary of defence, stormed into the office of Tom Donilon, the national security adviser.
“Why doesn’t everybody just shut the f*** up?” said the incensed Pentagon chief.
Should the west intervene in Syria? Whatever it does, it will do so in the shadow of the war in Iraq. Tony Blair, the prime minister who led the UK into that war, has come out in support of action. Read more
One of the most striking and harrowing statistics that I have come across recently is the number of American military veterans who are committing suicide. Last year some 6,500 veterans killed themselves. That compares to 3,532 US military personnel who were killed in the Iraq war. The suicide rate among veterans is running at 22 a day. Read more
Photo by Getty
“If I had to do it over again, I’d do it in a minute.” Proud, unrepentant, unreflecting, these are the words of Dick Cheney in a new documentary to be aired on American television on Friday evening.
The film is being released a few days before the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, but it is not the place to go for a candid reassessment of the war. Mr Cheney admits that “we did not find stockpiles” of weapons of mass destruction, but he adds: “We did find that he had the capability and we believed he had the intent.”
He is equally unflinching in his support for torture and other controversial aspects of the war on terror. “It isn’t so much what you achieved as is what you prevented,” he says. Read more
The former Republican senator can expect a bumpy ride as he answers questions on how he would play the role of President Obama’s new defence secretary. Hagel needs to persuade at least five of his former colleagues to support him to avoid a filibuster that would torpedo his appointment.
Ben Fenton, from the FT’s Live News Desk, and Johanna Kassel follow the hearing.
By Gideon Rachman
Turmoil in the Middle East looked like a gift to the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney. With unseemly eagerness, the Republican candidate unwrapped his present – blaming the Obama administration for encouraging Islamist militancy. Conservative commentators chimed in. On Fox Television, Charles Krauthammer announced: “What we are seeing on the screen is the meltdown, collapse of the Obama policy on the Muslim world.”
We had plenty to chat about today on the world desk, with these articles:
When Iran proposed a few weeks back that a meeting with world powers to discuss its nuclear programme should take place in Baghdad, US and British diplomats were not exactly thrilled by the idea. Read more
The World Bank presidency and Iraq’s impact on global oil markets
Alan Beattie, Xan Rice, Michael Peel and Guy Chazan join Gideon Rachman to discuss the battle for the presidency of the World Bank and the state of Iraq and its impact on the global oil market
By Gideon Rachman
For half a decade the war in Iraq was the most controversial and important issue in international politics. But when the American military slipped out of the country last week, the world hardly noticed
In this week’s podcast: We look at the many controversies courted by France’s president Sarkozy, at the Pope’s visit to Britain and at the survival of the Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan.
When the feel-good part of a trip is the visit to Iraq, you know you’re on an interesting journey.
After travelling to Baghdad yesterday to mark the formal end of the US’s military mission in that country, US defence secretary Robert Gates came today to Afghanistan, where Washington hopes to engineer a similar handover. Read more
Today, we are busy with another, much more controversial part of America’s military legacy – Iraq. Flying unannounced to the country as ever, we went by helicopter to Ramadi, once a seat of the insurgency, and travelled over a vast desert seemingly drained of all colour. Read more
By Daniel Dombey in al-Asad, Iraq
If you want to see what the US’s “responsible drawdown” in Iraq looks like, come to al-Asad Air Base. Here, in a desert of white sands, amid light canvas tents and under roaring planes, Robert Gates, US defence secretary, has begun a trip to mark the end of the US combat mission in the country.
The location is symbolic. The air base is in al-Anbar province, where some of the most violent episodes of the war took place and where the Anbar awakening that preceded the US surge took place.
When Gates arrives with a group of us journalists in tow, it is not yet seven in the morning and the transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn is just a few hours old. While we were in the air, President Barack Obama hailed the “historic moment” in only his second address from the Oval Office.
From al-Asad, at first glance, things look less dramatic. Read more
The FT is running a live blog commentary of Tony Blair at the Chilcot Inquiry – see it here