The World Today for June 02, 2017

NEED TO KNOW

TERRORISM

Good Cop, Bad Cop


In the early 1990’s, law enforcement throughout the United States adopted community policing with the aim of reinvigorating crime-ridden neighborhoods and breaking up gangs.

By putting cops on the beat, seeking the advice of citizens and cracking down on petty crimes, the idea was to reclaim street corners, break up drug networks and force gangs time and again to scatter and reorganize, leaving them weaker than before.

Today, on an international scale, the US and its allies in the fight against the Islamic State are trying to use similar tactics.

In January, the US began accelerating its coalition campaign against the Islamic State with more aggressive operations against the self-proclaimed caliphate’s strongholds.

Recently, the US announced an aggressive “annihilation campaign” to surround cities like Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria and smoke jihadists out of the cities that used to be their primary bases.

On Thursday, Russia announced it would hew to that plan, vowing to prevent militants from escaping Raqqa.

Efforts seem to be working. With the help of US-led air strikes and Iranian backing, Iraqi forces recently claimed they had retaken 90 percent of the western part of Mosul from the Islamic State. The militants have been pushed out of 55 percent of the Iraqi territory they grabbed in 2014.

But while the crackdown is yielding benefits, analysts suggest that the US and others are failing to create worthwhile change on the ground to prevent new, more radicalized fighters from springing up in the vacuum left by the Islamic State.

Politico Magazine reported that Israel fears that destroying Mosul in the attempt to dislodge 8,000 fighters from a city of 1 million will radicalize civilians, especially those who supported the group’s rule.

Meanwhile, the US tactic of arming ethnic groups normally at odds with one another so they can fight the Islamic State could create a new quagmire of extremism later on, Deutsche Welle reported.

Without soft power – diplomacy, economic development and humanitarian aid – working in tandem with brutal eradication efforts, victories in Mosul and Raqqa could prove “fragile and reversible,” the Hill opined.

The jihadists could relocate, too. They are already hunkered down in Libya, where the Islamic State could have planned the recent attacks in Manchester, CNN reported. On the other side of the world, the Filipino government is now waging war against the group.

Like the campaign against crime in the US, the fight against radical Islamic terrorism seems to require aggressive, direct intervention followed up with positive developments. In the US, the economic boom of the late 1990s fit the bill.

It’s yet to be seen if those who oppose the Islamic State will be so lucky in our time.

[siteshare]Good Cop, Bad Cop[/siteshare]

WANT TO KNOW

PARIS AGREEMENT

Climate of Uncertainty


The leaders of France, Italy and Germany pledged Thursday to keep up the fight against global warming after President Donald Trump announced he was pulling out of the Paris climate accord Thursday, rejecting his suggestion that the deal could later be renegotiated, France 24 reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron said in an English-language speech from the Elysee Palace – unprecedented from a French president in an address from home – that “I do respect this decision but I do think it is an actual mistake both for the US and for our planet.”

Meanwhile, China and the EU announced they would forge an alliance to take a leading role in tackling climate change, the Guardian reported.

“The EU and China are joining forces to forge ahead on the implementation of the Paris agreement and accelerate the global transition to clean energy,” said the EU’s climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete. “It’s a sad day for the global community.”

A senior EU official was blunter, noting a steely determination that the Paris agreement would not be allowed to unravel. It formally came into force last November.

“This is not the end of the world,” she said.

Signed in 2015 by 195 nations after nine years of negotiation – only Nicaragua and Syria refused to participate – the accord was considered a landmark commitment to lower the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Now, despite renewed pledges from various governments to honor the agreement, the absence of US financing to help smaller nations control their emissions puts its efficacy in doubt.

Chandra Bhushan, deputy director of the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi, told the Washington Post that the accord “is built not only on cutting emissions, but finance and technology, and the US contribution is about 20 percent of that.”

China, the world’s single largest emitter of greenhouse gases (the US is historically responsible for more emissions than any other country), said it will stick with the accord.

[siteshare]Climate of Uncertainty[/siteshare]

PHILIPPINES

A New Hub


A botched air strike by Philippine armed forces against pro-Islamic State militants on the southern island of Mindanao killed 11 government troops on Thursday, dealing a blow to a surprisingly protracted struggle that has entered its 11th day.

The bombing error came during the first deployment of fixed-wing aircraft in the Marawi City battle, Reuters reported.

In addition to the high cost of “friendly fire” and the fierce struggle to regain control of Marawi, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is facing more than a purely domestic rebellion.

The government said there is evidence that as many as 40 of the 400-500 fighters who overran the city had recently come from overseas, including from countries in the Middle East, to join local Islamic State (IS) sympathizers.

The fear is that the resilience of the attack could prompt IS leadership in the Middle East to turn the Philippines into its Southeast Asian affiliate, leading to the creation of an enduring jihadist force.

“IS is shrinking in Iraq and Syria, and decentralizing in parts of Asia and the Middle East,” Rohan Gunaratna, a security expert at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told Reuters. “The Philippines is the center of gravity.”

Separately, an attack at a Manila casino late Thursday night triggered fears that the Islamic extremists had hit the capital.  Instead, authorities believe it was a failed robbery attempt by a lone gunman who set gaming tables on fire with gasoline, creating thick smoke that killed 36 people, the Associated Press reported.

The gunman made off with $2 million in stolen casino chips, then committed suicide in a room in an adjoining hotel.

[siteshare]A New Hub[/siteshare]

ISRAEL

Postponed Promise


Many Israelis shrugged in indifference after President Trump backed off a campaign promise to relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Thursday, saying visa-free travel to the US is of higher importance, NPR reported.

Trump had promised voters he would move the embassy, a change long sought by Israel to solidify its link with Jerusalem. But the Palestinians also have political claims to the ancient city, and Trump did not want to take sides at this point, citing hopes of negotiating a peace settlement.

Still, while expressing appreciation for Trump’s reassurance that the matter is still on the agenda, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision “drives peace further away by helping keep alive the Palestinian fantasy that the Jewish people and the Jewish state have no connection to Jerusalem.”

In contrast, the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to the US, Husam Zomlot, said that Trump’s decision “gives peace a chance.”

Diplomats stressed that the embassy’s location is not the highest issue on the Middle East agenda and should not be given exaggerated importance.

Like Trump, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also promised to move the embassy as presidential candidates, only to drop the idea once they got into office, the New York Times noted.

[siteshare]Postponed Promise[/siteshare]

DISCOVERIES

It’s A Small World After All


Those globetrotters who dream of traversing every surface of the planet can find a serious life hack in the tiny Danish village of Klejtrup.

That’s because this Nordic village of fewer than 1,000 residents features a small inland lake complete with a scaled-down, man-made recreation of the entire world.

The outdoor atlas, called Verdenskortet, was constructed completely from soil and stone by the hands of one man.

After 20 years abroad, Soren Poulsen moved back to his family’s farm on the shores of Lake Klejtrup.

In 1944, Poulsen set about shaping out a condensed version of the world within the lake, a project that took 25 years to complete.

Using only a wheelbarrow, a pushcart and a few hand tools, Poulsen placed and shaped the world’s landmasses in perfect scale within a space of roughly 43,000 square feet, Slate reported.

Some of the stones used in the project weigh more than a ton.

Nowadays, the attraction, which only draws some 35,000 visitors per year, remains largely unknown to foreigners.

But it’s extremely popular among the region’s families who relish the opportunity to row across a pint-sized Pacific Ocean.

[siteshare]It’s A Small World After All[/siteshare]


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