A fighter with the U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on the front line in Raqqa, Syria, July 27, 2017 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).
Mission accomplished? That was doubtless then-President Barack Obama’s expectation as he anxiously watched a team of American Navy SEALs kill al-Qaida’s leader, Osama bin Laden, six years ago. It was clearly Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s hope last month when he visited the city of Mosul, newly liberated from the self-proclaimed Islamic State. But consider this: Al-Qaida had some 400 combatants on Sept. 11, 2001. Today it is stronger than ever, with several thousand adherents in countries from the Arabian Peninsula to Southeast Asia. If Western powers like the United States and the United Kingdom and their regional partners like [...]
A photo released by the Saudi Press Agency on July 30 shows Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Saudi Press Agency via AP).
On Monday, a most intriguing photograph started circulating in print and on social media, raising eyebrows, stoking conspiracy theories, and simultaneously stirring worries and anticipation. The picture featured the firebrand Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, dour-faced and black-turbaned, sitting across from a relaxed and smiling Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the young royal who is steadily emerging as the de facto leader of the Sunni kingdom. The picture revealed their unlikely meeting a day earlier in the Saudi city of Jeddah, and it testified to the fact that the two men wanted to make sure their encounter became known [...]
The sun sets on the historic and largely destroyed Old City on the west side of Mosul, Iraq, July 11, 2017 (AP photo by Felipe Dana).
On July 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s long-awaited announcement finally came: The self-proclaimed Islamic State’s occupation of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, was over. In its wake, the Islamic State left thousands dead, and victory in Mosul, after perhaps the worst urban warfare this century, looked more like devastation. Over a million people were displaced. While the fighting is not over, the eventual outcome—the Islamic State’s defeat in Mosul—is not in doubt. Still, much of the city is in ruins without even the most basic public services, and that’s the good news. The bad news is where things are likely [...]
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