In Iraq, the good news always seems to come mixed with bad.
The good news right now is largely on the military front. Iraqi, Kurdish and American forces appear to be turning the tide against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
American air operations have inflicted heavy losses on the group — killing its fighters, destroying its equipment, disrupting its command and impeding its movements.
As a result, the Islamic State is more and more on the defensive. It has not made any significant conquests since the summer. During the past month, it mounted a major offensive in western Anbar Province but achieved only modest gains.… Seguir leyendo »
The United States and its allies have finally begun to work out the terms of a nuclear deal with Iran. That’s hopeful because an agreement that forecloses Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons would be enormously beneficial.
Such a comprehensive accord would build on the Joint Plan of Action signed last November. That was a preliminary deal in which Iran agreed to pause its nuclear program in return for some modest relief on sanctions. The deal is set to expire in July, but can be renewed for another six months.
Washington seems focused on limiting the numbers and types of centrifuges that Iran would be allowed to possess, as well as the quantities and qualities of uranium it would be allowed to keep.… Seguir leyendo »
We are still a long way from a formal international agreement restraining Iran’s nuclear program, but the contours of a deal — both an interim accord and the final agreement — are slowly coming together. It won’t be perfect, but our worst mistake would be to make an impossible ideal the enemy of a tangible, “good enough” agreement.
When negotiations resume this week in Geneva between the United States, Britain, France, China, Germany and Russia on one side, and Iran on the other, seems the two parties will concentrate first on sealing an interim deal that would freeze Iran’s nuclear progress in return for some modest relief from sanctions; once that happens, negotiators would turn to hammering out details of the final, critical agreement.… Seguir leyendo »
This week, Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, will address the United Nations General Assembly. His message is likely to be a sharp change from the adolescent belligerence of his hard-line predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr. Rouhani is a genuine reformer — but his desire to move Iran in a new direction should not blind the United States to the difficulties of achieving a diplomatic solution.
Mr. Rouhani has hinted that he is willing to compromise on aspects of Iran’s nuclear program for the sake of repairing relations with the rest of the world and having economic sanctions on Iran removed. But he has also warned that he cannot hold off his hard-line rivals forever, and it is unclear whether the Iranians will be willing to make the kind of concessions that America and its allies want.… Seguir leyendo »
“The beginning of wisdom,” a Chinese saying goes, “is to call things by their right names.” And the right name for what is happening in Syria — and has been for more than a year — is an all-out civil war.
Syria is Lebanon of the 1970s and ’80s. It is Afghanistan, Congo or the Balkans of the 1990s. It is Iraq of 2005-2007. It is not an insurgency. It is not a rebellion. It is not Yemen. It is certainly not Egypt or Tunisia.
It is important to accept this simple fact, because civil wars — especially ethno-sectarian civil wars such as the one burning in Syria — both reflect and unleash powerful forces that constrain what can be done about them.… Seguir leyendo »
On Feb. 11, 1979, Islamic revolutionaries took power in Tehran. On Sept. 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorists launched their attacks on New York and Washington, killing nearly 3,000 Americans. On Feb. 11, 2011, Hosni Mubarak resigned as president of Egypt.
That these things all occurred on the 11th of the month is coincidental, but the events themselves are not unrelated. One of the worst mistakes Americans have made over these three decades has been to overlook their common roots.
The Muslim Middle East sits on a vast reservoir of popular anger and frustration over the region’s economic, social and political dysfunction.… Seguir leyendo »
With Washington’s attention understandably focused on the tragedy in Haiti, Iraq has slipped onto the back burner. Yet there is a major problem brewing there — one that could jeopardize President Obama’s plan to draw down American forces and even reignite sectarian conflict.
Last Thursday, Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission upheld a ban on nearly 500 Sunni politicians handed down (possibly illegally) some days earlier by the Accountability and Justice Commission. They were accused of having had ties to the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein. Among those proscribed from running in the nationwide elections scheduled for March 7 were Defense Minister Abdul-Kader Jassem al-Obeidi and Saleh al-Mutlaq, one of Iraq’s most influential Sunni politicians.… Seguir leyendo »