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Iraq Surrounds ISIS, Netanyahu Trails, Obama's Mean Tweets

Iraq Surrounds ISIS, Netanyahu Trails, Obama's Mean Tweets


Iraqi armed forces and Shia militias were surrounding ISIS fighters inside the city of Tikrit yesterday with Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi confident that victory over the terrorist group was only a matter of time. “Time is on our side. We have the initiative,” AFP quoted him as saying. Since the operation started 12 days ago, anti-ISIS forces have regained much of the territory around and inside the city, but fights continue to rage around a palace built by the late dictator Saddam Hussein, The New York Times reports. ISIS, meanwhile, has tried to shrug off the military setbacks by officially welcoming Boko Haram into its “caliphate” days after the terrorist group that seized vast part of northern Nigeria pledged its allegiance.


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Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis on this day, two years ago already. Time for your 57-second shot of history!


As the death toll from the Ebola outbreak surpassed 10,000 yesterday, researchers warned that a measles outbreak could soon threaten the West African countries hardest hit by Ebola. Ebola so overwhelmed the health care systems of these countries that it could lead to an outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases, the most dangerous of them being measles. If the highly contagious virus were to hit Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea, the scientists believe the infection rate could be much higher than that of Ebola and could lead to as many as 16,000 deaths. Read more from Mother Jones.


"I am just like Stalin," Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Thursday during a visit to the Caracas Book Fair. Today's Mexican daily La Razonfeatured this shockingly proud comparison to the Soviet dictator. Read more on our 4 Corners blog.


Egypt is set to unveil what the Financial Times describes as “ambitious plans” for a new administrative capital in a bid to reduce congestion in Cairo, a city of 18 million people. The “Capital Cairo” project would be built over 700 square kilometers, the size of Singapore, to make room for up to seven million inhabitants and extend the city as far as Suez, on the Red Sea.


Photo above: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/ZUMA

“The best thing I ever did with my life was stand up and say I've got Alzheimer's,” British fantasy writer Terry Pratchett once said. After his death yesterday, fans are remembering his best quotes. Read some of his best lines on Radio Times.


With just four days to go before Israel’s election day, the polls published in several newspapers today all show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party behind the center-left Zionist Union, AFP reports. The Zionist Union of Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni are in the lead with a projection of 24 to 26 seats in the Knesset, while the Likud is expected to keep just 21 or 22. The incumbent prime minister accused other right-wing parties of splitting the vote yesterday. “Whoever wants me as prime minister — which is the majority of the public — must vote for my party,” he said. In an editorial, The Economist describes “Bibi” as a “bad deal for Israel.”


After one of superstar DJ David Guetta’s concerts in Brazil, Le Monde’s Véronique Mortaigne sat down for an interview with the happy hedonist. “Guetta, who grew up in eastern Paris near the Aligre market, where Jews and Arabs lived together, is a popular, intercommunity artist, which is rare for a music genre that is typically regarded as the domain of white people,” the journalist writes of the second highest-paid DJ in the world who also has 17 million Twitter followers. “But Guetta has collaborated with the elite of black American music: Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Kid Cudi, Usher, Kanye West, who feature on his albums and vice versa. ‘I have a black musical background,’ he says.”

Read the full article, David Guetta, The Happy, Genre-Busting DJ.


In a U-turn move, Swedish prosecutors have offered to travel to London to question Wikileaks founder Julian Assange over sex assault allegations, the BBC reports. Lead prosecutor Marianne Ny explained the change in position by saying some of the crimes Assange is accused of will reach their statute of limitations in August. Assange, who has been taking refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, has repeatedly denied the allegations and refused to travel to Sweden for questioning, fearing he might then be deported to the U.S. to face charges over the secret diplomatic cables published on Wikileaks. Assange’s lawyer said his client would cooperate with the investigation.


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Iceland has dropped its bid to join the European Union, saying the country’s “interests are better served outside.” The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy was one of the obstacles for the Nordic island, which will continue to cooperate economically with Brussels.


U.S. President Barack Obama was on Jimmy Kimmel’s show yesterday and, like other celebrities, wasn’t spared the mean-tweet treatment. Watch expand=1] the video here.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Bibi Blinked: How The Ceasefire Deal Could Flip Israel's Whole Gaza War Logic

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed ahead a deal negotiated via Qatar, for a four-day truce and an exchange of 50 hostages for 150 Palestinian prisoners. Though the humanitarian and political pressure was mounting, Israel's all-out assault is suddenly halted, with unforeseen consequences for the future.

photo of someone holding a poster of a hostage

Families of Israeli hostages rally in Jerusalem

Nir Alon/ZUMA
Pierre Haski

Updated Nov. 22, 2023 at 8:55 p.m.


PARIS — It's the first piece of good news in 46 days of war. In the early hours of Wednesday, Israel agreed to a deal that included a four-day ceasefire and the release of some of the hostages held by Hamas — 30 children and 20 women — in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners, again women and children. The real question is what happens next.

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But first, this agreement, negotiated through the intermediary of Qatar, whose role is essential in this phase, must be implemented right away. This is a complex negotiation, because unlike the previous hostage-for-prisoner exchanges, it is taking place in the midst of a major war.

On the Palestinian side, although Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is present in Doha, he does not make the decision alone — he must have the agreement of the leaders of the military wing, who are hiding somewhere in Gaza. It takes 24 hours to send a message back and forth. As you can imagine, it's not as simple as a phone call.

And on the Israeli side, a consensus had to be built around the agreement. Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right allies were opposed to the deal — in line with their eradication logic — even at the cost of Israeli lives. But the opposition of these discredited parties was ignored, and that will leave its mark.

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