Skip to main content


Showing posts from June 13, 2014

The Fall Of Mosul Who Is The Jihadi Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

By Patrick Cockburn

"The Independent" -In the space of a year he has become the most powerful jihadi leader in the world, and on Monday night his forces captured Mosul, the northern capital of Iraq. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Dua, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) has suddenly emerged as a figure who is shaping the future of Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East.

He began to appear from the shadows in the summer of 2010 when he became leader of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) after its former leaders were killed in an attack by US and Iraqi troops. AQI was at a low point in its fortunes, as the Sunni rebellion, in which it had once played a leading role, was collapsing. It was revived by the revolt of the Sunni in Syria in 2011 and, over the next three years by a series of carefully planned campaigns in both Iraq and Syria. How far al-Baghdadi is directly responsible for the military strategy and tactics of ISIS, once called AQI, is uncertain:…

Two Mineral Trade Disputes with Market Implications

Jacqueline Côté

China accounts for over 90% of the global output of rare earth metals, a key component in smart phones, computer hard drives, and catalytic converters in cars. In 2010, China announced it would impose an export quota on the valuable metals, sending several developed economies – notably Japan, which relies heavily on the production of electronics – into a bit of a panic.

China is not the only country sitting on large rare earth deposits. The metals are not so ‘rare’ as their name implies, and can be found in inner Asia, Australia, parts of Namibia, and the United States. However, the refining process is both costly and environmentally damaging to an extent that most countries are unwilling to mass produce at levels required to meet global supply.

The East-West Ukraine Freeze Will Not Spread to the Arctic

Patrick Johnson

The steady retreat of Arctic ice over the past decade is no less than a geopolitical upheaval in the making. Never before did the intricacies of the border separating the eight Arctic states really matter, because the estimated 90 billion barrels of oil at stake were rendered irretrievable by thick, glacial ice. Rising global temperatures have changed all that, and a traversable Arctic has already departed the realm of theoretical possibility to become undisputed fact. This has important geopolitical consequences for littoral states and beyond, not just in terms of unlocking the resource potential in the Arctic seabed, but also for the new avenues of international trade via the Northwest Passage.

Director and Deputy of Intelligence Agency Are to Retire by Fall

WASHINGTON — The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn of the Army, and his civilian deputy, David R. Shedd, will retire by early fall, the agency said in an email to its employees on Wednesday.

The two men are stepping down at a time when the Defense Intelligence Agency is shifting its priorities from providing intelligence to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to working more closely with the C.I.A. to gather and distribute information on global issues like the proliferation of weapons and rising powers like China.

In a statement, the Pentagon spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “appreciates the service of these two dedicated and professional leaders,” and that the retirements had been planned “for some time.”

But two senior American officials said tensions had flared between General Flynn and some of his Pentagon colleagues who balked at changes he wanted to make, including cuts to what he viewed as outdated intelligenc…