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I.S. = Invasive Species – NYTimes.com

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I.S. = Invasive Species – NYTimes.com.

I can’t think of a better way to understand ISIS. It is a coalition. One part consists of Sunni Muslim jihadist fighters from all over the world: Chechnya, Libya, Britain, France, Australia and especially Saudi Arabia. They spread so far, so fast, despite their relatively small numbers, because the disturbed Iraqi and Syrian societies enabled these foreign jihadists to forge alliances with secular, native-born, Iraqi and Syrian Sunni tribesmen and former Baathist army officers, whose grievances were less religious and more about how Iraq and Syria were governed.

Today, ISIS — the foreigners and locals together — is putting pressure on all of Iraq’s and Syria’s native species with the avowed goal of reducing the diversity of these once polycultural societies and turning them into bleak, dark, jihadist, Sunni fundamentalist monocultures.

It is easy to see how ISIS spread. Think about the life of a 50-year-old Iraqi Sunni male from Mosul. He first got drafted to fight in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war that ended in 1988. Then he had to fight in the Persian Gulf war I after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Then he lived under a decade of U.N. sanctions that broke Iraq’s middle class. Then he had to endure the years of chaos that followed the U.S. invasion, which ended with a corrupt, brutal, pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Baghdad led by Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that did all it could to keep Sunnis poor and powerless. This was the fractured political ecosystem in which ISIS found fertile ground…

How ISIS Works – NYTimes.com

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How ISIS Works – NYTimes.com.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has a detailed structure that encompasses many functions and jurisdictions, according to ISIS documents seized by Iraqi forces and seen by American officials and Hashim Alhashimi, an Iraqi researcher. Many of its leaders are former officers from Saddam Hussein’s long-disbanded army who augmented their military training with terrorist techniques during years of fighting American troops…

Five Hidden Risks of U.S. Action Against the Islamic State – Syria in Crisis – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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Five Hidden Risks of U.S. Action Against the Islamic State – Syria in Crisis – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s four-pronged strategy of air strikes, support to local proxies, defense against the Islamic State’s attacks through intelligence and counterterrorism, and humanitarian assistance leaves many unanswered questions. It’s hardly a clear articulation of the sort of long-term, holistic strategy needed to deny the Islamic State the fertile ground it needs to thrive. The approach is fraught with trade-offs, risks, and hidden costs that need to be addressed.

  1. The focus on targeting the Islamic State’s leadership…

What the Gaza War Means for the Middle East – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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What the Gaza War Means for the Middle East – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

With intensifying international pressure to end hostilities, a brief lull in fighting currently prevails in Gaza. But a formal ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has proven elusive and the death toll continues to mount following sporadic attacks.

Carnegie experts assess how the crisis will impact Palestinians, Israelis, and the rest of the Middle East.

Bosnia’s Lessons for Syria – NYTimes.com

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Bosnia’s Lessons for Syria – NYTimes.com.

“Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, many observers have drawn parallels between Syria and Bosnia. The Geneva II talks echo efforts to resolve the conflict in the Balkans 20 years ago.

What are the lessons? If there is a general one from Bosnia for the parties meeting in Switzerland, it is the need for humility. As determined as the international community may be to resolve conflict, civil war is extraordinarily resistant to outside intervention. This has three important implications.

The first is that peace initiatives are often an unreliable lens through which to view a conflict. There is a tendency to assume that facts on the ground in places like Bosnia or Syria are primarily controlled by strategies and timetables devised by foreigners. They are not…”

Kofi Annan: Syria says it will respect ceasefire | euronews, world news

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Kofi Annan: Syria says it will respect ceasefire | euronews, world news.

Kofi Annan says the Syrian government has assured him it will respect the ceasefire with rebels, less than 24 hours before it is due to come into force.

Envoy Annan warns against more force in Syria

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Envoy Annan warns against more force in Syria.

 

“I hope no one is thinking very seriously of using force in this situation. I believe any further militarisation will make the situation worse,” …“We have to be careful that we don’t introduce a medicine that is worse than the disease. We don’t have to go very far in the region to find an example of what I am talking about,”

Failings left 10 migrants homeless

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Failings left 10 migrants homeless.

TEN PEOPLE ended up homeless because of failings in the social protection system, a report published today claims.  The report, which highlights issues facing immigrants applying for welfare in Ireland, finds that 10 of 54 cases examined ended up with the person becoming homeless. It will be published today by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.

 

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