Iraqi forces march on Tikrit; South Korea slashes interest rates; Thailand-China rubber and rice deal in the works; UN Security Council blasted on Syria response; IMF approves Ukraine loan programme; and more 

TOP OF THE AGENDA

Iraqi Forces March on Tikrit

Iraqi forces, backed by Sunni and Shia militias, entered (WSJ) the Iraqi city of Tikrit on multiple fronts, pushing their way to the city center, as many of the militants of the self-declared Islamic State retreated from the city, according to security sources. Security sources said Islamic State militants were attempting to repel (AP) security forces with sniper fire and explosives. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he expected the operation in Tikrit to be successful but expressed concern (Al Arabiya) about the influence of Iran-backed Shia militias at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Iraqi officials said that Islamic State militants razed (Al Jazeera) parts of the 2,700-year-old city of Khorsabad, known for its statues of human-headed winged bulls, in the latest attack on Iraq's ancient heritage sites.

ANALYSIS

"In dealing with the bitter harvest of the Iraq invasion, any ongoing and future use of force must realistically further a comprehensive political strategy for an inclusive Iraq. Otherwise, Iraq will remain prey to the tyranny, indeed tragedy, of the unintended consequences of military action," writes Alia Brahimi in Al Jazeera.

"While the Obama administration is pursuing a parallel structure of Sunni trained 'National Guard' force to take on ISIS, neither the Iraqi government nor these tribes who have visited Washington recently promise a fast execution of such plan anytime soon. The U.S. increasingly finds its hands tied in Iraq, blindsided by an Iranian-Iraqi offensive in Tikrit and a lame duck government in Baghdad," writes Joyce Karam in Al Arabiya.

"In the Islamic State as well as al-Qaeda and affiliates, the U.S. shares a common adversary with its enemies Iran and Syria. At the same time, actions against the Islamic State benefit al-Qaeda and affiliates, and vice versa. It may not be possible to weaken one without strengthening the other. 'Moderate' rebels in Syria have not always stood up well against Islamist or jihadist factions. The only clear conclusion is that no solution is in sight," writes Martha Crenshaw in the Atlantic

PACIFIC RIM

South Korea Slashes Interest Rates

The central bank announced a surprise cut (Yonhap) of South Korea's benchmark interest rate to a record low of 1.75 percent on Thursday, in a move that echoes global cuts to strengthen economic growth.

THAILAND: Thai officials are seeking to conclude a government-to-government deal (Bangkok Post) to sell two million tons of rice and 200,000 tons of rubber to China. The contract is expected to be finalized in early May.

 

ELSEWHERE:

UN Security Council blasted on Syria response

IMF approves Ukraine loan programme 

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

 

 

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