The rapid gains by the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) over the past week have caught many by surprise. Thousands of residents have fled fighting in key cities including Mosul and Baquba as reports have circulated of beheadings and mass executions by the advancing ISIS forces.
With ISIS and other anti-government forces edging closer to Baghdad amid heavy clashes with Iraqi security services, CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson has been reporting live from Baghdad. But even as attention focuses on ISIS and what role the United States and other nations in the region might play in halting the militants' advance, there is also uncertainty about Iraq’s broader future.
Nic and CNN producer Victoria Eastwood will be taking readers’ questions about what they are seeing on the ground, how Iraqis feel about this latest turn of events, what the future might hold – and the challenges of reporting from a country once again embroiled in crisis.
Please leave your questions in the comments section below.
“To contain a growing, increasingly confident insurgency as NATO troops withdraw, Afghanistan needs continued international support, including military, and the new government in Kabul will need to reinvigorate the state’s commitment to the rule of law,” the International Crisis Group noted in a report last month.
But how likely is it that Afghanistan will receive the support it needs? And what can we expect next? Graeme Smith, the author of the report and a senior analyst with ICG, answers readers’ questions.
How much success did NATO forces actually have? Was it more a case of displacing insurgents from one area to another, or was there genuine progress?
NATO can take credit for many successes in Afghanistan. Unfortunately there was also a clear failure to bring security, which threatens every other aspect of the mission. NATO assumed leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2003, and by every measure the country is now more dangerous as we approach the expiry of the ISAF mandate on December 31, 2014. That’s not just my personal view after years of living in Afghanistan. It’s a conclusion that cannot be avoided when looking at the number of insurgent attacks, the access of government officials to rural districts, and other security data. Now, security is only a single aspect of a complicated international effort in this country. But the fact remains that security was an eponymous part of the ISAF mission, which remains unfinished. The redeeming factor might be that NATO has helped with the formation of large Afghan security forces, and these local forces still have a fighting chance if they get enough support from donors. FULL POST
CNN’s Beijing bureau chief and correspondent, Jaime A. FlorCruz, responds to readers’ questions about recent tensions in the South China Sea, China’s relations with its neighbors and what may be behind recent disputes.
What is the dispute between China and Vietnam over the Paracel Islands about? Is it just about resource claims?
It is about resources. Much of the disputed area is believed to be potentially rich in oil and other natural resources. But it’s more than just a fight over resources – it’s the latest episode of a long-running saga of conflicting territorial claims of the South China Sea. China this time is acting aggressively to assert its claim to most of the oil-rich sea while its neighbors with conflicting territorial claims are angrily pushing back.
It’s also about China’s perception that Asian claimants like Vietnam are nibbling away at islands that China claims is its “indisputable sovereign territories”, as Chinese officials say. China insists it is simply defending its territory, sovereignty and security. It denies that it will impede freedom of navigation, an overriding concern of the U.S. and other third party stakeholders.
It’s a proxy fight, and extension of U.S.-China rivalry, taking place while the United States “rebalances” its defense and foreign policy toward Asia. China thinks some of these claimants, like Vietnam and the Philippines, are colluding with the United States, and are ganging up against China.
The U.S. and China find themselves on the opposite side of the existing political world order. The United States is the established power, the sole superpower, although its ability to enforce its will has been eroded lately. China on the other hand is a rising power – it’s gaining confidence as its economy and military might grow.
“To contain a growing, increasingly confident insurgency as NATO troops withdraw, Afghanistan needs continued international support, including military, and the new government in Kabul will need to reinvigorate the state’s commitment to the rule of law,” the International Crisis Group writes in a report released this week.
But how likely is it that Afghanistan will receive the support it needs? And what are the next government’s chances of success? Graeme Smith, the author of the report and a senior analyst with ICG, will be answering readers’ questions on the future of Afghanistan.
International attention might currently be focused on Crimea and eastern Ukraine, but does another territorial dispute involving a major power, this one in the South China Sea, also have the potential to flare up into full-blown conflict?
Robert D. Kaplan, chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor and author of Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific, will be taking readers’ questions about China’s regional claims, its relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors, tensions with Japan, and the prospects for conflict between East Asia’s two major powers.
The U.S. Senate is reportedly set to vote on a deal to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown. But how damaging would a default really be? How much damage has the crisis done to the U.S. image abroad and what should the two sides be focusing on moving forward?
Zanny Minton-Beddoes, the economics editor of The Economist, will be in New York and answering readers’ questions on these and other issues tomorrow. Please leave your questions in the comments section below.
U.S. special forces were involved in a pair of raids in Africa at the weekend. In Libya, Delta Force captured a key suspect in the East Africa embassy bombings that took place in 1998. However, Navy SEAL Team Six withdrew before being able to confirm if they had killed a suspected top leader of Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group linked to al Qaeda that has claimed responsibility for the attack last month on a shopping mall in Nairobi.
But what do these raids say about the U.S. role in Africa? How great is the threat from terrorism on the continent, and what should we expect next?
International Crisis Group’s Deputy Africa Director E.J. Hogendoorn will be taking GPS readers’ questions on these and related issues. Please leave your questions in the comments section below.
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Zanny Minton Beddoes, the economics editor for 'The Economist,' responds to readers' questions on recent economic data, the national minimum wage and gridlock in Washington.
Figures out this week suggest groundbreaking declined at home construction sites, factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region dipped. How concerned should we about these kinds of numbers?
I think we’ve had a fairly mixed crop of numbers, some of which are worrying, and some of which are quite positive. You have to be careful not to draw too much from any individual number. But broadly, my sense is that the private side of the U.S. economy is recovering at a reasonable, but not terribly dramatic, pace. The housing market, in particular, is on the mend.
Yes, some numbers disappoint, but broadly it’s a good news story. But I think the overall pace of recovery is being held back by the fiscal tightening that is going on. We had quite big tax increases at the beginning of the year. And in the sequester – and we’re getting somewhere in the order of 1.9 percent of GDP in fiscal tightening. So that’s acting as a brake on the economy and so the overall recovery is not as strong as it otherwise would be, which means there’s slower job growth than there otherwise would be.
It is a recovery, but it’s a pretty lackluster one considering how much we have to catch up, and I think that has quite a lot to do with fiscal policy.
America’s economy is showing further signs of slower growth, Reuters reported today, with “factory activity slipping in the mid-Atlantic region while groundbreaking declined at home construction sites.”
How much of a concern are these latest numbers? How big an impact has sequestration – the forced budget cuts in Washington – had on the economy? And what can we expect going forward, in the U.S. and globally?
Zanny Minton Beddoes, the economics editor for The Economist, will be taking readers’ questions tomorrow. Please leave a question you would like us to ask Zanny in the comments section below.
What's going on in the world? What topic would you like to hear Fareed's take on?
From the U.S. presidential race to unrest in Syria, from China's rise to the latest on Iran — and all points in between — submit your questions to Fareed Zakaria in the comments below. He'll share his thoughts in later posts.
You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter @FareedZakaria.
Hungry for some more? Check out past posts of Fareed's Take and more of Fareed's answers to reader questions.
Hundreds of you have submitted very thoughtful questions for me through Facebook, Twitter and my blog. Here is my response to the question: When countries acquire nuclear weapons, don't they become more emboldened on the world stage?
Nuclear weapons don’t create some kind of magical change of geopolitical position. Do they provide you with some additional sense of immunity and power? Probably they do because it becomes unlikely that the United States is going to invade. But in the case of Pakistan, there was no such guarantee with regards to what India’s actions were going to be.
Does anyone really thing that North Korea or Pakistan are regarded as fearsome adversaries, countries to emulate, countries with great influence in the councils of the world? No. They are regarded as basket cases - failed states that are dangerous largely because they are unstable and are run by irresponsible governments that are willing to do destabilizing things in their region. The result is they are more watched, cordoned off and contained then ever before. FULL POST
By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
Hundreds of you have submitted very thoughtful questions for me through Facebook, Twitter and my blog. Here is my response to the question: Is the Arab Spring bad for women?
I think that overall the Arab Spring will be good for women. In the short run, however, the Arab Spring has opened the lid on a Pandora’s Box of problems, which have existed for decades, and are now being aired. Reactionary, illiberal forces that have been suppressed and repressed are coming to the fore. But I don’t think these forces will determine where the countries of the Arab Spring end up.
Take a look at a very rural, tribal society like Afghanistan, which does not have progressive attitudes toward women. Nevertheless, the Taliban’s imposition of reactionary policies on women was very unpopular. Most men didn’t like it; most women didn’t like it. FULL POST
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
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Obama as a foreign policy president?
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Hillary Clinton's truly hard choice
China's trapped transition
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