Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Clara Spera
Monday, March 9, 2015, 9:10 AM

Friday, the Pentagon announced that Iraqi troops pushed back Islamic State militants from the town of Al Baghdadi, an important IS stronghold, located a few miles away from a U.S. Marine air base. The Hill explains that the U.S.-led coalition helped the Iraqi forces by launching several airstrikes in the region, as well as providing surveillance and intelligence information.

The Islamic State may be fracturing from within. The Washington Post reports that as the group begins to lose ground in Iraq and Syria and struggle with recruitment, its leadership is splintering:

“The key challenge facing ISIS right now is more internal than external,” said [Lina Khatib, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut]. “We’re seeing basically a failure of the central tenet of ISIS ideology, which is to unify people of different origins under the caliphate. This is not working on the ground. It is making them less effective in governing and less effective in military operations.”

A global effort to preserve priceless art and antiquities has emerged in the wake of the release of videos displaying militants from the Islamic State destroying precious artifacts and ancient ruins in parts of Syria and Iraq. The New York Times reports that the United Nations has banned all trade in Syrian artifacts, while a coalition of art historians and experts pressure the Syrian government to intervene in some way to protect its country’s history.

Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has purportedly pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State. The BBC reports that, in a video posted to Twitter, a man who is believed to be Boko Haram’s leader was shown declaring the group’s newly pledged allegiance. The video has yet to be verified.

Meanwhile, Chad and Niger have come together to launch an offensive against Boko Haram. CNN tells us that the countries have launched ground and air raids in an effort to push Boko Haram away from the Niger-Nigeria border, deeper into Nigeria where the group can be contained.

Greg Miller, of the Post, highlights the deep pessimism that seems to have taken over the U.S counterterrorism network. Pulling from DNI Clapper’s congressional testimony in February, remarks by Maj. Gen. Michael Nagata, commander of U.S. Special Operations forces in the Middle East and former CIA director Michael Morell, Miller concludes that the counterterrorism community sounds “increasingly grim.”

In a piece for the AP, Ken Dilanian writes that the extensive and revealing SSCI CIA “Torture Report” was the exception, not the rule. Dilanian reasons that rigorous examination needed for the report was a “rare” phenomenon, and questions what would happen if other intelligence programs, like targeted killing, were also put under the Senate’s microscope.

A majority of Americans expect fast, personal drone delivery to become a reality within the next five years. Forbes explains that even though the FAA has a long way to go before approval wide-scale drone delivery, two-thirds of respondents to a poll indicated that they believe that regulations will ease soon, allowing for home drone delivery.

The Times explains how Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has juggled the tense relationship between his country and Pakistan in an effort to create and sustain peace in Afghanistan between the government and the Taliban. Meanwhile, the Economist considers President Ghani’s situation, and unlike many within his country, applauds his efforts to bring Pakistan to the table for peace talks with the Taliban.

Fred Hiatt of the Post urges us not to shift our attention away from U.S.-China relations, even as other relationships, like that with Russia, are taking center stage in the media. Hiatt argues that focusing on Russia's recent spate of anti-democratic and "barbaric" actions, like invading Ukraine and killing political dissidents, has led us to forget some of the increasing problems within China. China's recent shift away from democratic reform should make us question the effectiveness of the U.S.' trade policy with China.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

Thomas E Doyle, II penned this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, considers a country’s motivations when pursuing nuclear weapon capabilities.

Herb weighed in on a recent Times op-ed that advocated for cyber arms control.

Our most recent podcast episode features a conversation with Brookings Fellow Nathan Sachs on the topic of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech to Congress.

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