NEW IRAQ GOVERNMENT “PROMISING”
Iraqi President Fuad Masum is forming a new government to help halt the ISIS insurgency in the country’s north, replacing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in a development U.S. President Barack Obama characterized as “a promising step forward.”
Masum has asked veteran Shia politician Haider al-Abadi to replace Maliki, whose political support crumbled yesterday amid the growing ISIS crisis. Maliki said the appointment of the 62-year-old Abadi was illegal, calling it a “violation of the constitution,” The Washington Post reports.
In a statement, Obama urged political leaders to work together, saying that only an inclusive Iraqi government could fight the Islamist terrorists and that there was no American military solution to the crisis.
But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said this morning that the U.S. would consider expanding military and political support if Abadi led a multi-sectarian government, The New York Times reports. Kerry also insisted U.S. combat forces would not re-enter Iraq, The Guardian reports.
Meanwhile, the British Royal Air Force announced it is deploying Tornado jets in northern Iraq on surveillance missions in support of the United States, according to the BBC. British officials also ruled out a combat role against ISIS.
U.S. and UK planes have carried out 14 humanitarian missions over Mount Sinjar in Iraq, where thousands of Yazidi people are still trapped after fleeing from Islamist terrorists.
EUROPE’S FIRST EBOLA DEATH
Marking the first Ebola death in Europe, Spanish priest Miguel Parajes, who contracted the virus while working in Liberia, has died in Madrid, Reuters reports. The 75-year-old priest was airlifted from Liberia Aug. 7 and placed in quarantine after being infected with the virus that has now killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa. Parajes was reportedly being treated with the experimental ZMapp drug, which has helped two infected U.S. aid workers.
As we report on our Arabica blog, post-revolution Tunisia has nursed a series of new social ills despite high hopes for an improved country. According to a new report from Al Jazeera, among them is rising drug use and addiction, tied to high unemployment and social despair. “Marijuana comprises a full 92% of the drugs consumed in Tunisia,” Worldcrunch’s Laura Thompson writes. “Popular culture seems very much attuned to this statistic. A recent, wildly popular Ramadan series, Mektoub, featured the story of a promising young man imprisoned for seven years after police officers found him trying pot — for the first time. After getting caught up in dirty prison politics, the young man ends up with even more years added to his sentence, pushing him to suicide at the very end of the season.” Read the full post here.
“We got fireworks for the U.S. when they return,” a young British terrorist for ISIS tweeted about U.S. involvement in Iraq, also boasting about the number of fellow jihadists who are lining up to become martyrs.
RUSSIA SENDS UKRAINE AID, WEST ISSUES WARNING
Despite Western warnings against using humanitarian aid as a pretext for invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced plans to send an aid convoy to eastern Ukraine, Reuters reports. According to RT, Russia and Ukraine earlier agreed on a humanitarian mission under authority of the Red Cross, though the agency denied definite plans based on security concerns, the BBC reports. Several reports also said Ukraine would not allow the convoy into the country if it was accompanied by Russian military.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
EGYPT ACCUSED OF “PLANNED MASSACRE”
A Human Rights Watch report released today says the killings of at least 817 people by Egyptian security forces in July and August 2013 amounted to a “planned massacre” that could be deemed crimes against humanity. The U.S.-based organization also states the killings were planned at the highest levels of power and calls for senior leaders to be probed.
Twitter has revealed that about 8% of its users — or 23 million — are actually bots.
GAZA TRUCE HOLDS, ISRAEL DISMISSES HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
The 72-hour Gaza ceasefire brokered in Cairo Monday is still holding today, but talks to end the month-long war between Israel and Hamas made no little to no progress. “The gaps between the sides are big, and there is no progress in the negotiations,” Reuters quoted an Israeli official as saying.
Meanwhile, Israel has dismissed a UN investigation into possible human rights violations in Gaza as a “kangaroo court,” Al Jazeera reports. The UN announced Monday it named an international independent commission to inquire into possible war crimes in the Gaza Strip committed by both Israel and Hamas.