June 28, 2016

June 28, 2016

NEED TO KNOW

Lessons From Victory


It took a month but Iraqi forces with the aid of the United States and Iran finally liberated Fallujah from the Islamic State.

A mere 40 miles west of Baghdad, Fallujah was the first city to succumb to jihadists in January 2014. It’s also where around 100 American soldiers perished and hundreds were injured in house-to-house fighting in 2004 after the US invasion of the country.

Now the city is arguably the biggest win in the Iraqi central government’s embarrassingly slow campaign to retake their country from the ragtag militants who defeated the Iraqi army, and took over about one-third of the country a few years after the US left arguing that Iraq could fend for itself.

Flippancy aside, retaking Fallujah will likely save lives. The Islamic State used the city as a platform for car bombings and other terror attacks in the Iraqi capital. That capacity is now gone.

Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, is next.

“This Iraqi flag is flying in Fallujah,” said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. “God willing, soon it will be flying in Mosul.”

Mosul will most likely be harder to conquer and reconstruct and govern after the Islamic State’s regime ends there.

Time magazine reported that the Fallujah experience suggests that Iraq, the US and Iran need to cooperate more closely if they want to avoid some of the pitfalls in Mosul.

Troops are still clearing Fallujah of mines and other explosives. Around 84,000 people were displaced in the fight. They’re now refugees in their own land, living in camps where the temperature can reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

“My sons are dying in this heat,” said Sanaa Abed from a camp for refugees near Fallujah. “I can't stand it. Life in the camp is daily torture. I want to go home.”

Iraqi authorities have also allegedly “disappeared” hundreds of men picked up from among refugees fleeing Fallujah. The idea has been to prevent Islamic State fighters from escaping. But Human Rights Watch has claimed that the policy has resulted in torture and unfair prison sentences for folks who may or may not be jihadists.

Lastly, militants, tribal militias and government officials have long sought to control Fallujah. It’s not clear how Baghdad is going to quell those internecine fights. Meanwhile, bitterness lingers among soldiers who say residents cheered as Islamic State publicly killed their brethren over the past two years.

Iraq and its allies need to figure out how to proceed – and soon. Around 600,000 people in Mosul live under the Islamic State. Baghdad is under pressure to retake cities. Mosul is the biggest prize – but also a greater risk.

“If we struggled to cope with Fallujah, then God help us with Mosul,” Karl Schembri of the Norwegian Refugee Council told Time.

WANT TO KNOW

Mending Fences


Turkish President Recep Erdogan unexpectedly moved to mend relations with Russia Monday, hours after Turkey and Israel said they were putting a six-year feud behind them.

President Erdogan sent a letter to President Putin expressing his regret for the shooting down of a Russian combat plane in November – which plunged relations between the two countries into crisis.

“We are taking steps to end the crisis and economic cooperation will follow,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told Turkish state television Monday night.

In reaching out to Russia, Turkey is attempting to curtail the damage diplomatic confrontations are causing to its economy and its increasing isolation in the region, say analysts.

In addition to economic benefits, Turkey may be able to wield more influence in regional conflicts thanks to improved relations with Russia, say observers. Moscow has long been the dominant international actor in neighboring Syria.

Zuma's Hefty Bill


South Africa's National Treasury said Monday that President Jacob Zuma should pay more than $500,000 for non-security upgrades he made to his private Nkandla home.

The country's top court already ruled in March that the scandal-plagued Zuma should pay back some of the $16 million he had spent on upgrades – which included a swimming pool, a cattle enclosure and a chicken run, among other fixtures – and gave the Treasury 60 days to work out a fine.

Zuma has already said he would reimburse the country for some of the money, while his office said they will study the Treasury's report before commenting.

Discontent in Africa's most industrialized nation has been brewing under Zuma – and ahead of local elections in August – because of record unemployment and an impending recession. Zuma so far has managed to hold onto his post thanks to support from the African National Congress (ANC) which has been in power in the country since 1994.

Filling A Vacuum


An Islamic State affiliate in Yemen has claimed responsibility for a wave of attacks in the southern port city of Mukalla on Monday that killed at least 43.

The seven simultaneous attacks, carried out by two suicide bombers and other militants, targeted intelligence officers, army barracks and checkpoints, said Yemeni officials. One bomb was hidden in a box of food brought to soldiers to break their Ramadan fast.

The attacks coincide with the Yemeni government's plan to suspend talks with Shia Houthi rebels to end the conflict in Yemen – two months of negotiations in Kuwait failed to reach a breakthrough on the country's civil war.

In late April, Yemeni and Emirati forces reclaimed control of Mukalla from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Both al-Qaeda and IS have exploited the conflict between Houthi rebels and the government to carry out attacks and seize territory.

DISCOVERIES

Computer Updates and Goliath


Sick of those pesky computer updates?

Northern California travel agent Teri Goldstein got sick enough to file a lawsuit against Microsoft that won her $10,000.

Goldstein last month won her case after an unwanted upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 caused her computer to crash permanently, Computerworld reported. The small claims court agreed with her, finding the upgrade wasn’t consensual.

As she struggled to get her computer up and running, her business floundered. Customers were calling and asking why she hadn’t answered emails. She estimates she lost $17,000 due to the update.

Microsoft technicians, meanwhile, she said, were rude. They even offered her $150 – proof of guilt in her mind. They never managed to fix her machine, she added.

Eventually, she purchased a new computer.

Microsoft has come under fire in the past year for gimmicks designed to steer customers into upgrading their operating systems to its new offerings, even going so far as to goad customers into clicking on a red X on their screens to accept an upgrade, rather than reject it.

Goldstein said she hoped her win taught Microsoft a lesson in dealing with customers and customers a lesson in dealing with giant corporations like Microsoft.

jbhatti
Tue, 06/28/2016 – 06:16