Iraq

  • Fuel shortages and power outages are putting pressure on the Islamist insurgents who seized control of Mosul last week.
  • Their military offensive has been matched by a digital offensive of equal prowess.
  • Moderate Islamists are being eclipsed by their extremist counterparts, while jihadists are on the march, roving unchecked across broad sections of North Africa and the Middle East.
  • Hong Kong is undergoing deepening tensions over its political future as a self-governed territory under Chinese sovereignty.

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  • Argentina is playing a game of chicken with NML, saying: we are prepared to go as far as the possibility of default not to pay you. Given that, how are we going to settle this case?
  • Oil majors including ExxonMobil and BP started evacuating staff from Iraq as Sunni militants battled for control of the north’s main oil facility.
  • China has been moving sand onto reefs and shoals to add several new islands to the Spratly archipelago, in what foreign officials say is a new effort to expand the Chinese footprint in the South China Sea.
  • Anti-Brussels sentiment in Hungary is manifesting itself in a fight over home-brewed palinka.

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  • China’s increased border security and pressure on Nepal to turn away Tibetans has reduced the flow of Tibetan refugees to a trickle.
  • Germany, the previous Darth Vaders of football, are keen to put an end to being beautiful losers and become beautiful winners.
  • Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia editor for the Times, writes about class war in Thailand and the story of Thaksin Shinawatra.
  • Nouri al-Maliki has made mistakes, but the real culprits in the present upheaval are the faultlines running through Iraq, contradictory Western policies and the predatory approach of Iraq’s neighbors
  • The seizure of 160 computer flash sticks has revealed how Isis came from nowhere and having nothing to possessing Syrian oil fields and control of Iraq’s second city.

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By Toby Luckhurst
Al-Qaeda: On the march Terror affiliates are active in more countries than ever, write Sam Jones, Borzou Daragahi and Simeon Kerr.
The rise of a new US federalism. Edward Luce says with federal government largely paralysed, the future is being shaped in the cities.
♦ The Economist looks at the effect a new era of automation will have on jobs. Previous technological innovation has delivered more long-term employment, not less. But, it notes, things can change.
♦ The New York Times reveals how Iraq’s government is paying and arming tribal militias to fight as its proxies in the battle against militants.
Rewriting the revolution. H.A. Hellyer in Al Arabiya News looks at the historical revisionism in play in Egypt.
♦ An infographic in the New York Times shows the cost per person of the US federal budget passed last week. Read more

♦ Iraq’s prime minister is fighting a fire in Fallujah that he helped to start, says Roula Khalaf.
♦ People who once would have been gangsters can now be found in the darker corners of finance, writes Gary Silverman.
♦ US intelligence experts were worried that Osama bin Laden would be reincarnated in an “immortal” form: as a virtual avatar.
♦ The presence of international observers monitoring Egypt’s constitutional referendum could lend legitimacy to a flawed and undemocratic process, says Michele Dunn, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
♦ A small town near Antwerp has been taking the mentally ill and disabled into their homes and offering an alternative to regular treatment with community care.
♦ The bee shortage is going to become a catastrophe. It hasn’t already because “wild pollinators” have picked up the strain so far.
♦ The Simpsons paid tribute to Hayao Miyazaki, who announced his last feature recently. Read more

♦ Italy’s dire jobless figures have shattered a fragile optimism as the country’s political disarray increases, writes Guy Dinmore.

♦ David Pilling looks at the emergence of anti-establishment figures in Asia who are challenging the prevailing order in a year which will see elections across the region.

♦ Chris Giles says now that the Bank of England has been proved wrong over its forecasts on unemployment it is time the governor considered raising interest rates.

♦ Foreign Policy profiles the duelling protest movements that underline the spirit of division in post-revolutionary Tunisia. The journal also shines a light on a dangerous new front it says has opened up in Syria.

♦ Barack Obama has been boasting for two years that he “ended the war in Iraq, writes Peter Baker in The New York Times, as he describes the grim aftermath left behind.

Robert Gates, who served both Republican and Democratic presidents, has lifted the lid on his time running the Pentagon. Politico reviews his candid memoirRead more

♦ The Volcker rule is contentious, but it is not the knockout blow some people had expected.
♦ The economically sensible wing of the US Republican party doesn’t exist, says Paul Krugman.
♦ Iran and Israel have paid tribute to Mandela, while choosing to remain a safe distance from the memorial.
♦ Marc Lynch explains why nobody in the Middle East deserves to be on the Foreign Policy Leading Global Thinker list this year.
♦ After cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s interior ministry has turned its attention to the activist community of journalists, non-Islamists and students.
♦ The Australian speaks to a mother in Iraq who is waiting for her son’s execution to be announced after a “hanging day”. Read more

By Catherine Contiguglia
♦ The vote to determine who will lead the Fed will be “razor thin,” and there are a lot of questions about White House favourite Larry Summers’ record on regulation, which suggest that though he might embrace tough capital and liquidity requirements, he is likely to be less sympathetic towards structural proposals.
♦ The question of military intervention in Syria on the backdrop of deteriorating US-Russia relations is dominating the G20 meeting and bringing to light just how reluctant many western powers are to engage in global policing, which raises the question of who will enforce global rules.
♦ The reluctance to intervene is often blamed on the shadow of US intervention in Iraq, but some say the situation in Syria should rather be compared to the sectarian Bosnian civil war where a US-led bombing campaign was hailed as bringing peace. Regardless of the outcome of Obama’s vote on Syrian intervention in Congress, the US President will still lose – either his integrity, or his domestic authority and will alienate all his “friends and frenemies.”
Top secret documents revealed by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show that US and UK intelligence agencies successfully developed methods to crack encryption used to protect online privacy, compromising all internet security guarantees.

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Chris Cook

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

♦ The ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ talks to the FT about dividing his time between the UK and Iraq.
♦ Edward Snowden has managed to stir up “the biggest bout of anti-Americanism since the Iraq war.”
♦ Edward Luce thinks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles are wrong about US debt – “At 4 percentage points of GDP, the salient worry is whether it is falling too rapidly.”
♦ China’s government may be less fixated on GDP targets, but it still needs to sustain confidence in the economy.
♦ Chairman Mao banned golf in China as a bourgeois frippery and China’s first golf course is younger than Tiger Woods, but the game is catching on fast – Chinese wunderkinds are being incubated and some are infiltrating the game at the highest levels.
♦ A new language has been discovered – Warlpiri rampaku is spoken only by people under the age of 35 in Lajamanu, an isolated village in northern Australia.
♦ Charles Pierce pens his furious response to the verdict over Trayvon Martin’s death: “Of course, black kids can’t win fights without getting shot through the chest. They are supposed to act very politely, speak when spoken to and, maybe, just get off the sidewalk when they come in contact with people like George Zimmerman”. Read more