Globe Trot
Militants parade down a main road in Mosul, Iraq.
Associated Press/Militant source via Twitter
Militants parade down a main road in Mosul, Iraq.

Globe Trot: Baghdad ‘calm and normal’ as the rest of Iraq burns


IRAQ: Churches in Baghdad plan to continue regular gatherings despite the pending threat of invasion from al-Qaeda-linked militants.

“The situation in Baghdad is still calm and normal, no more than explosions here and there as usual,” said a member at St. George’s Anglican. The church plans a youth meeting today with regular services on Sunday, including distribution of food packets to the city’s needy. Other churches say they will persevere too.

Residents in Baghdad say they are astonished four divisions of Iraq’s army dissolved in Mosul and Tikrit in the face of several thousand ISIS (or ISIL) militants. There are widespread reports the Iraqi Army was ordered to stand down.

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Kurdish peshmerga forces moved in to secure Kirkuk, a strategic oil city straddling Iraq’s Arab center and Kurdish north that the powerful Kurdish Regional Government has wanted to control all along. Peshmerga leaders say they have no intention of fleeing ISIS fighters.

It’s conceivable events unfolding in Iraq are what Democrats have wanted all along. Vice President Joe Biden as a senator was an advocate of partitioning Iraq into three parts—Kurdish north, Sunni middle, and Shiite south—something our allies in the region would never go along with.

And in Arab circles it’s long been hypothesized that Washington inaction in Syria, as now in Iraq, was part of a “cold, bloody-minded, and thoroughly deliberate” strategy:

“The idea is to stand back while Syria becomes a smoldering ruin, even with Bashar al-Assad perched atop the ash heap. In this geopolitical version of musical chairs, Iran and Russia would be left standing if and when their client emerges victorious and he begins to look for donors to help with Syria’s rebuilding. The United States and its allies would be comfortably seated with wallets in their pockets, smiles on their faces, and eyes glued to the spectacle of Moscow and Tehran saluting their client with arms spread and empty palms upturned.”

In Iraq, the spectacle could turn out to be the same, with the Obama administration content to see Iran move into the power vacuum in Baghdad while Kurdish leaders maintain control in the north. This would vindicate President Barack Obama’s opposition to the war, but at the cost (already in Syria) of hundreds of thousands of lives—and the very real possibility of wiping out the oldest Christian centers in Iraq.

Meantime, Americans can expect new gas price highs and new threats with an Islamic terrorist sanctuary in the heart of the Middle East. 

U.S. EMBASSY BAGHDAD: Is it possible the United States would abandon its post in Iraq? The U.S. embassy in Baghdad—at 104 acres and 21 buildings, the largest in the world—is preparing for evacuation. When I visited there in April it had dropped from a high of 15,000 employees during the war to under 5,000, and all Defense Department employees were being sent home.

SOUTH SUDAN: Malnutrition in Maban County in Upper Nile State has tripled since February, Medair said in a press release. “Food was scarce even before the conflict started; now it is all but gone. We are seeing people climbing trees to pick leaves to eat and wading into murky swamps to consume water lilies,” Medair communications officer Wendy van Amerongen said.

SUDAN: About 50 protesters gathered in front of the White House yesterday to draw attention to Meriam Ibrahim, the 27-year-old mother imprisoned in Sudan who faces 100 lashes for marrying a Christian and the death penalty for refusing to recant her Christian faith. 

CANADA: Could an end-of-life bill legalizing euthanasia turn Quebec into a tourist destination for the terminally ill?

WORLD CUP: NASA has weighed in on the aerodynamics of this year’s World Cup ball, concluding the “Brazuca” gives an advantage to goalkeepers over strikers.

GLOBAL: Caracas is the most expensive place for expats to live, followed by Oslo and other European cities. But “aid capitals,” where the influx of UN and other outside workers drive up prices also figure into the rankings—with South Sudan’s capital Juba at No. 9 and Congo’s Brazzaville at No. 12.

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