United States Forms “Core Coalition” to Fight Islamic State Militants

The United States said on Friday that it was forming a "core coalition" to counter Islamic State militants in Iraq, though ruled out deploying combat troops. Ministers from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland, and Denmark met on the sides of the NATO summit in Wales to discuss strategies for ...

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The United States said on Friday that it was forming a "core coalition" to counter Islamic State militants in Iraq, though ruled out deploying combat troops. Ministers from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland, and Denmark met on the sides of the NATO summit in Wales to discuss strategies for dealing with the Islamic State. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said those states comprised the core group, which will form the larger and extended coalition. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the countries should develop solid plans by the U.N. General Assembly this month in New York. Meanwhile, British military officials said a limited military operation may be imminent and Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday offered to supply arms to Kurdish forces. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has authorized military cooperation with the United States, as well as Iraqi and Kurdish forces, in the fight against Islamic State militants.

Syria

The head of the U.N. and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons mission overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, Sigrid Kaag, said Thursday there continue to be discrepancies over the government's chemical arms declaration. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power expressed concern that Syria may have hidden chemical weapons and that stockpiles could end up in the hands of Islamic State militants. Meanwhile, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a Syrian air raid killed 18 foreign fighters from the Islamic State. The attack hit a municipal building being used by Islamic State leaders as a headquarters in the town of Gharbiya near the city of Raqqa.

The United States said on Friday that it was forming a "core coalition" to counter Islamic State militants in Iraq, though ruled out deploying combat troops. Ministers from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland, and Denmark met on the sides of the NATO summit in Wales to discuss strategies for dealing with the Islamic State. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said those states comprised the core group, which will form the larger and extended coalition. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the countries should develop solid plans by the U.N. General Assembly this month in New York. Meanwhile, British military officials said a limited military operation may be imminent and Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday offered to supply arms to Kurdish forces. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has authorized military cooperation with the United States, as well as Iraqi and Kurdish forces, in the fight against Islamic State militants.

Syria

The head of the U.N. and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons mission overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, Sigrid Kaag, said Thursday there continue to be discrepancies over the government’s chemical arms declaration. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power expressed concern that Syria may have hidden chemical weapons and that stockpiles could end up in the hands of Islamic State militants. Meanwhile, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a Syrian air raid killed 18 foreign fighters from the Islamic State. The attack hit a municipal building being used by Islamic State leaders as a headquarters in the town of Gharbiya near the city of Raqqa.

Headlines

  • The United Nations released a report Thursday citing human rights abuses in Libya and estimating that 250,000 people have been displaced by fighting between rival militias in Tripoli and Benghazi.
  • Two bombings in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad killed over 20 people Thursday.
  • Israel has published tenders to build 283 homes expanding the northwest West Bank settlement of Elkana.
  • New evidence shows Hamas members from a local Palestinian clan were behind the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in June, though documents do not show a connection to Hamas leaders.

Arguments and Analysis

Obama shouldn’t lose his cool over the Islamic State‘ (Craig Whiteside, War on the Rocks)

"Why exactly is the Iraqi government sanctioning sectarian militias to participate in the fight against IS, especially given the militias’ well-known history for extrajudicial killings (2004-2007)? The Iraqi state is faced with a phenomenon that any student of International Relations 101 is familiar with – a security dilemma. One state’s prudent measure taken to firm up defense (allowing Shia militias to defend vulnerable areas) becomes a threat to someone else; in this case, the Sunni population of Iraq. Reliance on a preexisting security organization filled with ideologues (that even share a common religious framework) is convenient and possibly even productive for short-term interests. In the long term, the use of sectarian militias will produce excessive collateral damage, contribute to a loss of legitimacy of the government, and raise the bar for future reconciliation between Sunni and Shia.

The use of militias presents a major problem for the Obama administration, whose policy to date has been to use U.S. military involvement in Iraq as leverage to bend the Iraqi government’s sectarian tendencies back toward a more inclusive government responsive to all groups."

‘"Halal Hyperspace": A Guide to Iran’s Irksome Internet‘ (Saeed Jafari, IranWire)

"Iran has one of the slowest internet access speeds in the world. According to a 2010 report by Mehrnews, a Persian news agency, Iran ranked 144 out of 152 countries in terms of connection speed, placing it behind Venezuela, Nigeria, Bolivia, Iraq and Paraguay. A report by Akamai Technologies in 2013 verified that Iran’s average connection speed of 6.3 megabytes per second is slower than in countries such as Afghanistan and Yemen, where internet infrastructures are traditionally less robust than Iran’s.

According to one internet user, Ashkan from Rasht, the provincial capital of Gilan in northwestern Iran, trying to send and receive emails can be frustrating and extremely time consuming. ‘Many times I’ve had to wait about 40 minutes to send or receive email through Gmail’, he says. ‘It really shatters your nerves. It’s simply ridiculous to have to wait another 40 minutes for email when you need to do things on the internet. Of course it’s gotten much better nowadays and the wait is more like five minutes, but I still can’t check email on my phone, as I don’t trust the government. Unrestricted internet would really give me renewed confidence.’

It’s a sentiment with which President Hassan Rouhani can relate. Last week, as part of a response to one ayatollah’s claims that high-speed internet is haram, he joked that it was easy to fall asleep while waiting for articles to download."

— Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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