FRANCE: The “infantrymen” of World War I marched down the Champs Élysées in Paris today, as Bastille Day celebrations in France this year commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great War.
GERMANY: Flags are flying in Germany, too, after it won yesterday’s World Cup, beating Argentina in overtime 1-0. It’s Germany’s fourth World Cup, its first since 1990—and Chancellor Angela Merkel in Rio formed a receiving line to kiss the 11-man team.
IRAQ: The Kurdish region of Iraq, known as Kurdistan, took steps last week to declare its independence from Iraq—which could mark the beginning of the end of the Allied order in the Middle East drawn up at the end of World War I.
Kurdish forces quickly moved in where the Iraq army moved out last month, taking control of Kirkuk and other strategic areas in northern Iraq to halt the advance of the Islamic State militants. Since June, oil production from the region has increased 50 percent—a reflection of the region’s political and economic stability compared to the areas of Iraq controlled by Baghdad.
Here’s a good summary of why the threat the United States faces from ISIS is more dangerous than the threat from al-Qaeda a decade ago.
In Qaraqosh, an area outside Mosul with one of the largest concentrations of Christians in the Middle East, those forced out of Mosul and other areas are taking refuge in homes of fellow believers and the 12 churches in the city. But they recognized they are trapped too.
“Iraq is disintegrating,” Salam says in English. “And we will lose— regardless whether we belong to the Arabs or the Kurds in the end.”
Meals for Christians begin with a prayer to God, “Please stand by us.”
SUDAN: Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian imprisoned in Khartoum with her children, now with her family in protective custody in the U.S. Embassy, has seen little progress in her case despite high international interest.
“She is still at the embassy and unfortunately all the other embassies have pulled back to let the us handle the case, but now the Sudanese government appears to be trying to get something out of the U.S. in order to release her,” one American human rights organizer involved in the case told me over the weekend. “It’s critical that international support continue.”
At this point, Ibrahim is accused of falsifying documents and faces charges from her own family of apostasy. The family appealed the case after the government dropped those charges, and a hearing is scheduled for July 17. The Sudanese government claims it cannot move forward because it cannot serve her papers while she remains at the U.S. Embassy. Obviously the Khartoum government hasn’t followed similar protocol in jailing and charging her—violating international norms in torturing her and forcing her to give birth while chained.
UKRAINE: At least 23 Ukrainian soldiers and border guards were killed Friday and 93 wounded, many from a rocket attack by pro-Russia rebels, in one of the bloodiest days of fighting in the country’s east in weeks, officials said. Both sides continue to trade accusations as fighting escalates, with Ukraine accusing Russia of violating its airspace, and Russia vowing “a tough response” to Ukrainian shelling across its border.
GLOBAL INSTABILITY: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is right. On CNN yesterday he said the world is “in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime.” The breadth of global instability now unfolding hasn’t been seen since the late 1970s, U.S. security strategists say, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, revolutionary Islamists took power in Iran, and Southeast Asia was reeling in the wake of the U.S. exit from Vietnam.