Links to Start Your Week 2/22/15

Middle East

21 Egyptians working in Libya were executed by the ISIL this week. The men were Coptic Christians. The move is being interpreted as both evidence of ISIL’s spreading influence beyond Iraq and Syria, and men in the video said it was also a warning to Europe. Spokesmen from ISIL have talked before about how the organization will destroy “Rome” (which has been variously interpreted to mean the West more generally, or Turkey.) Romans have responded by tweeting travel tips to ISIL.

The U.S. hosted a three-day summit on countering violent extremism earlier this week. President Obama discussed the need for a united global front against extremism. Of course, such fronts are always complicated by other geopolitical considerations. In this case, one concern is that Iranian-back Shiite militias in Iraq are some of the most effective forces operating against ISIL. Another major group in the fight against ISIL, the Kurds, are receiving backing from the Americans but are still viewed as terrorists by the Turkish government. So this whole broad coalition thing is easier said than done.

War on the Rocks has some good analysis on the future of Iraq.

Africa

Boko Haram has issued a statement threatening to violently disrupt Nigerian elections, which have already been postponed 6 weeks to try to give security forces more time to distribute voter ID cards and ensure that voters will be safe. The decision was received pretty skeptically; since the past several years have not seen a lot of major success for the Nigerian government against Boko Haram, many wonder what difference a few weeks will really make.

Libya has requested that the U.N. lift an arms embargo against it to better enable it to fight ISIL. This article made the interesting choice of not mentioning that there are two rival governments operating in Libya until nearly the end of the article, and never clarifying which one had requested the end to the arms embargo. But we do now know that someone in Libya wants more arms from abroad.

Asia

Women’s rights activists are increasingly concerned that new Afghan president Ashraf Ghani’s promises to women will fall by the wayside. One of the first worrying signs: he has not appointed four women to his cabinet the way he said he would. Women turned out to protest the decision earlier this week.

Europe

Poland will pay damages to two detainees held in secret CIA prisons in Poland.

Latin America

Protests and controversy continue in Argentina, where a prosecutor died under mysterious circumstances a month ago. He had been investigating Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s possible involvement in covering up Iran’s role in the bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Argentina in 1994.

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