Isis

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By Gideon Rachman

This weekend America announced that it was sending more troops to Iraq, Russia allegedly sent more troops into Ukraine and President Barack Obama set off for Beijing.

Turkey’s role in the war against Isis
Gideon Rachman is joined by David Gardner and Daniel Dombey to discuss Turkey’s role in the unfolding war against the jihadist movement Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Does Turkey share western war aims or is the government of President Erdogan more interested in crushing the Kurdish movements that are fighting Isis?

David Gardner

Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the Turkish parliament

Turkey’s parliament has just voted to authorise the army to use force in Syria and Iraq, the dismembered countries to its south where the jihadi extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) have declared a caliphate that is menacing Turkish borders.

Criticised abroad for sitting on the sidelines of the emerging coalition against Isis, and at home for a neo-Ottoman foreign policy that has placed Turkey at loggerheads with almost all its neighbours, Thursday’s vote is being hailed by some as a watershed – Ankara’s return to the bosom of Nato, with which Turkey has been allied for more than six decades.

Yet, rather than a clear-cut decision, this looks like more of a complicated juggling act by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who became Turkey’s first directly elected president in August after being prime minister for more than a decade, during which he has left a clear but messy imprint on Turkish policy in the Middle East. Read more

Isis and the new war in Iraq
Barack Obama, the US president, promised in a televised address to destroy Isis, the self-proclaimed Islamist state in Iraq. Does that mean another western war in the Middle East is under way? Gideon Rachman puts the question to Roula Khalaf, FT foreign editor, James Blitz, former security editor, and David Gardner, FT correspondent in Beirut.

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. Read more

David Gardner

A Yazidi family that fled Sinjar in Iraq takes shelter in the Kurdish city of Dohuk ( SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

Barack Obama’s decision to move back into the maelstrom of Iraq, from which he withdrew in 2011 after solemnly pledging to extricate US forces once and for all, would clearly not have been taken lightly.

Little under a year ago, after all, the president baulked at the last fence on Syria, declining to punish the Assad regime for nerve-gassing its own people – crossing a red line he had chosen to single out as inviolable. That was the wrong decision, and it is worth a moment to remember why. Read more

  • The Calvert Journal looks inside the world of korobka, the rough-and-ready football played in courtyard cages in Russia.
  • Iraqi antiquities officials are calling for the Obama administration to save Nineveh and other sites around jihadist-occupied Mosul.
  • “I’m not sure if we’ve learned all the lessons about what we did wrong after July 7 – and I am even less sure that other countries have learned from our mistakes” says Dr. H.A. Hellyer, a non-resident fellow at Brookings.
  • Everything is expensive by historical standards. Neil Irwin explains why.

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  • Isis’s PR department is pushing its vision of an Islamic state.
  • Industrialisation has left China with soil pollution that is damaging health and livelihoods across the country. The government had declared soil pollution data a “state secret”, but officials have slowly started acknowledging the issue.
  • The US Navy’s most sophisticated warship is designed to be operated by video gamers – the young sailors who crew their ships have, after all, been raised on video games.
  • Neil McArthur, a philosopher, asks if humans will ever be liberated from basic biological needs when it comes to sex.
  • Steve Negus in The Arabist details how Iraq has been mismanaged by the Maliki goverment.

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  • The FT’s Richard McGregor reports on how detainees at Guantánamo Bay are growing old in limbo.
  • Algeria’s mostly French-bred football team highlights the failure of homegrown African football.
  • The Kurdish forces are unlikely to lose a war to Isis should it choose to launch a full-scale attack, but the fight could be costlier than its leaders let on.
  • In Jordan, officials fear that Isis is gaining support in poor communities such as Ma’an, or in the teeming northern refugee camps and border towns where many of those who have fled from Syria live.
  • The US State Department began investigating the security contractor Blackwater’s operations in Iraq in 2007, but the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq”. Weeks later, the firm’s guards killed 17 civilians.
  • One of Egypt’s leading novelists, Ahdaf Soueif, has accused Egypt’s military-backed authorities of “waging a war on the young”.
  • Buzzfeed looks into the Russian collective that calls itself the Anonymous International: “Completely unknown just months ago, the group has become the talk of Moscow political circles after posting leaked documents detailing elements of Russia’s annexation of Crimea; covert operations in eastern Ukraine; the inner workings.”
  • The flawed response in Saudi Arabia to an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome could have contributed to its spread.
  • In the Netherlands, sandcastles are being used to educate schoolchildren the dangers of rising sea levels.

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