UN launches aid operation in Iraq; Pope Francis wants to visit China; German ambassador summoned to Ankara over spying claims; Sri Lanka blocks UN war crimes investigators; and more 

Top of the Agenda

UN Launches Aid Operation in Iraq

The United Nations' agency for refugees is launching a major aid operation (BBC) to send supplies to more than half a million civilians displaced by the fighting between the militant ISIS group and Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the north. The agency will send supplies by air, road convoys, and sea shipments through Turkey, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran. Meanwhile, Iraqi forces launched an offensive on Tuesday (Reuters) to drive ISIS fighters out of Tikrit, the hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein. President Barack Obama had announced on Monday that Iraqi and Kurdish ground troops reclaimed Iraq's largest dam with the aid of a bombing campaign by U.S. warplanes (NYT).

Analysis

"Taken together, the moves highlight the fact that the Islamic State, already the best-armed and best-funded terror group in the world, is quickly adapting to the challenges of ruling and governing. That, in turn, dramatically reduces the chances that the extremists will face homegrown opposition in what amounts to the world's newest territory," writes Yochi Dreazen for Foreign Policy.

"Any expanded direct support for the Peshmerga could further strain the relationship with the central government in Baghdad. The battle for the dam was an important test of new cooperation between Kurdish and Iraqi forces, with the guidance of American advisers," write Nour Malas and Tamer el-Ghobashy for the Wall Street Journal.

"Although Washington has long been wary of Kurdish nationalism, it is a powerful mobilizing force. It also converges with America's strategic interests. The Kurdish groups from Syria and Turkey reject radical Islamism. They are secular nationalists and natural American allies," write Aliza Marcus and Andrew Apostolou for the New York Times.

 

PACIFIC RIM

Two Die After Tibetan Protests

Rights groups have said that two people have died (Reuters), including one who committed suicide in protest in jail, after police opened fire on a demonstration in a Tibetan region of China. The protest erupted over the detention of a respected village leader in the Ganzi prefecture of Sichuan province.

CHINA: Pope Francis renewed overtures to China on Monday (SCMP), saying he wanted to visit the country and expressing his wish to mend ties that were cut off more than half a century ago.

Kurt Martens leads a conversation on Pope Francis's leadership of the Catholic Church in this CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series.

ELSEWHERE:

German ambassador summoned to Ankara over spying claims

Sri Lanka blocks UN war crimes investigators 

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

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