September 2, 2014

The United States and its allies are inching toward greater involvement in the civil war in Iraq and Syria as the White House continues to try to recover from President Obama’s controversial remark last week that he has “no strategy” to deal with the terrorist army of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
As NATO Weighs ISIS Action, US Still Has ‘No Strategy’
An Iraqi fighter from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigade), waves a flag next to a rocket launcher during heavy clashes with Islamic State fighters in Tuz Khurmatu in Salaheddin province, south of Kirkuk, on Aug. 31, 2014. (JM Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)
Terrorists Threaten Tunisia’s Transition to Democracy
August 12, 2014
Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, remains on a strong path toward democracy three and a half years after the hope and turmoil spread through the Middle East and North Africa. However, it is deeply worried the deteriorating situation next door in Libya is spilling over to the gain of radical Islamists seeking to destabilize Tunisia.
 Kurdish Fighters Face Down ISIS Army With US Help
August 11, 2014
By Brian M. Downing

Since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria stormed into Iraq and teamed up with some of the most vicious remnants of Saddam Hussein’s forces they have met with almost no opposition, with one exception: the Kurdish fighters.

Kurdish warriors have a long and well deserved reputation of fighting outside powers, from ancient Persian empires to Saddam Hussein. Lightly armed and trained by American and Israeli teams, the Kurdish fighters, called “peshmerga,” or “those who face death”, tied down tens of thousands of Iraqi troops that might otherwise have been deployed against U.S. forces in the Gulf wars and against Israeli forces in the 1967 and 1973 wars with Egypt and Syria.

Defiant Hamas Blocking End to Gaza Conflict
August 11, 2014

A new 72-hour cease-fire agreed to Sunday by Israel and Hamas has brought no progress in talks to end the conflict in Gaza because Hamas has offered nothing to ensure a lasting peace and Israel refuses to negotiate while it is under fire. As a result, the continuation of the Egypt-brokered talks is in jeopardy. This could mean a prolonged war of attrition until Hamas runs out of rockets.
Oil Price Spike Likely Because of Mideast Turmoil
August 11, 2014
Special Economic Analysis
by Peter Warburton, PhD

The international price of a barrel of crude oil has held at a surprisingly narrow range over the past two years, bounded by $100 on the downside and about $120 on the upside. Despite the scale of geopolitical concerns, North Sea Brent crude sits around $105 per barrel today. The escalation of tensions in Iraq has had little impact so far on its oil producing regions to the south. The risks of supply disruption in the Middle East and North Africa, however, are “extraordinarily high,” according to the International Energy Agency. An oil price spike above $120 is probable over the next 12 months.
Despite Iraq Failure, US Must Defend Kurds, Lead Against ISIS
August 10, 2014
By Fred Fleitz

Ronald Reagan once joked about America’s cynicism toward government when he said: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

When President Obama said Thursday “America is here to help” on the Iraq crisis, he generated similar cynicism given the president’s obvious credibility issues on Iraq and the fact that the “help” he is offering is extremely limited.

Obama’s Limited Response to Unlimited ISIS Ambitions
August 8, 2014
President Obama’s “targeted strikes” at the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria may be too little too late to stop the terrorist army that moved in this summer to fill the vacuum left after Obama pulled out U.S. troops in 2011, declaring Iraq a “stable and self-reliant” nation.

If the first U.S. airstrikes Friday are any indication, Obama appears content to hit only the most imminent tactical threats to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, but not targets of strategic consequence such as ISIS leaders or mass troop concentrations. So far, this is a far more limited response than the type of focused action discussed in LIGNET on June 17 (Insurgent Forces Vulnerable to US Counterstrike in Iraq).

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