Iraq to form new government; US disbands counterterrorism operation in Philippines; South Korean PM's resignation rejected; West African ebola outbreak "biggest ever"; Lebanon reacts to multiple bombings; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Iraq to Form New Government Next Week

The Iraqi parliament will convene on Tuesday to try to form a new government, Iraq's vice president said Thursday (AP). Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who leads the powerful Mahdi army, echoed Western diplomats in calling for an emergency national unity government, a day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rebuked such demands (Al Jazeera). Iran is flying surveillance drones over Iraq and supplying Iraqi armed forced with materiel, U.S. officials said (NYT), while policymakers in Tehran are debating the merits of supporting besieged allies in Baghdad and Damascus (WSJ). Meanwhile, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry is seeking to muster support from Arab allies to peel Sunni tribesmen from their tactical alliance with ISIS (WSJ).

Analysis

"U.S. President Barack Obama, a man who campaigned on extricating the United States from 'dumb' wars in the Middle East, finds himself potentially embroiled in another one. He is sending a small contingent of special forces to work with the Iraqi military, but many in Washington are urging him to take more decisive action against the ISIL militants sweeping across Iraq, seizing territory and oil facilities and threatening to sow chaos in Baghdad and beyond. This was not inevitable. The Syrian revolution—and the hesitant, confused international reaction to it—paved the way for the resurrection of a militant Islam that would turn vast regions of Iraq and Syria into borderless jihadi strongholds and inch closer to redrawing the map of the Middle East—in practical terms if not on paper," writes Rania Abouzeid in Politico Magazine.

"Simply bombing ISIS strongholds won't do the trick. In fact, military action alone will only further alienate the Sunnis—and reinforce the notion that America serves as Maliki's air force. Advocates of American military action worry that an unchecked ISIS might someday launch terrorist strikes against the United States or Western Europe. Maybe so. But another way to inspire such attacks is to bomb ISIS positions (and probably kill some Sunni civilians in the process) while doing nothing to reform Iraqi politics," writes CFR's Fred Kaplan in Slate.

"Iraq's parliamentary elections, which were held at the end of April, may open the way to getting rid of Maliki and reconfiguring power in a new national-unity government. But the country's squabbling politicians are obstinate. After the previous elections, in 2010, the parliament broke a world record for the longest time taken to form a new government, bickering for a full nine months until Maliki, whose alliance had come in second in popular votes, and his thirty-four-member cabinet were approved. Maliki prevailed by simply holding out longer than the others; the same intransigence has characterized his style of governance ever since," writes Robin Wright for the New Yorker.

 

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PACIFIC RIM

U.S. Disbands Philippines Counterterrorism Operation

The United States is disbanding a decade-long counterterrorism operation involving hundreds of elite U.S. troops in the southern Phillippines after determining that Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups have largely been crippled, officials said Thursday (AP).

SOUTH KOREA: President Park Geun-hye rejected Prime Minister Chung Hong-won's resignation, deciding to retain him after two nominees for the position withdrew (Korea Times).

ELSEWHERE:

West African ebola outbreak "biggest ever"

Lebanon reacts to bombings 

This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org    


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