FROM Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Destroying Mosul in order to save it The Islamic State is mostly gone from the ancient city of Mosul after what some veterans call "the toughest urban warfare since World War II." Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has declared victory, but half his second largest city is in ruins. Thousands are dead; more than 700,000 are refugees. Nobody thinks peace is at hand — while ISIS still holds the Syrian city of Raqqa and fosters violence in other places, too. Will the US and other western countries help rebuild Mosul — while Kurds, Turks and other factions struggle for power?
ISIS: Is the Caliphate Cracking? Iraq's Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi is due at the White House on Tuesday, and it's all about the war against ISIS, the so-called Islamic State. Last year, ISIS looked like the world's most dangerous terrorist group — intent on restoring the Caliphate that once ruled all Muslims. Unique for extreme brutality and brilliant Internet propaganda, ISIS forced the US and Iran into an unlikely coalition against it. Now, ISIS is losing captured territory, its sources of money and even competent soldiers. There are signs of internal dissention. But even if it's in partial retreat, it's a likely threat in the Middle East — and to western interests — for years to come.
Iran Takes the Lead… in Iraq Iraqi forces are making headway in efforts to re-take Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit from ISIS. The major city of Mosul could be next. Iran is very much part of the action — with advisors to Shiite militias in Iraq's Sunni heartland — which could lead to bloody internal conflicts. There are predictions that Iraq may end up even more divided. Meantime, it's reported that ISIS is destroying ancient monuments and priceless artifacts. But American forces are nowhere to be seen . Is it too late for the US to make any difference?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?