"Extremist organisations have found a ready audience in Iraq, where [Prime Minister Nuri al-]Maliki's policies continue to alienate the Sunni population. Sunnis, who consider themselves the true Iraqis and still have trouble accepting the indisputable fact that they constitute a statistical minority in the country, would be difficult for any Iraqi government to appease. Mr Maliki has worsened the situation by allowing and encouraging purges of Iraqi politicians in the name of de-Baathification and largely discontinuing the US-initiated policy of working with Sunni tribal leaders and their militias - the so-called Sons of Iraq - to isolate al-Qaeda," writes Marina Ottaway for the BBC.
"What Iraq needs now is what it saw in 2007 when Gen. David Petraeus orchestrated a full-blown counterinsurgency strategy. Such a strategy has many facets, but one of the most important is a political 'line of operations,' which in this case means fostering reconciliation between the prime minister and tribal leaders of Anbar. The U.S. lost most of its leverage to do that when it foolishly pulled its troops out of Iraq at the end of 2011 after the failure of halfhearted negotiations overseen by Vice President Joe Biden. Selling Iraq Hellfire missiles, as the Obama administration has just done, is a poor substitute. It is positively destructive because it only further inflames the situation and creates the impression that the Americans are siding with militant Shiites in a sectarian civil war," writes CFR's Max Boot in the Wall Street Journal.
"The al-Qaeda narrative that only violent jihad and terror can bring change to the Muslim world came under attack as dictators were toppled from Tunis to Cairo to Sanaa by mostly peaceful protest.… It was Awlaki who predicted al-Qaeda's comeback. Writing in his English-language journal Inspire, Awlaki described the Arab Awakening as a 'tsunami' of change that would inevitably benefit al-Qaeda. He said the hopes of reformists and democrats would be shattered against counter-revolutionary plots by reactionaries and that the breakdown of law and order would benefit the global jihad," writes Bruce Riedel for al-Monitor.
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Antigovernment Protestors Face Crackdown in Cambodia
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SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Bangladesh's Ruling Party Wins Election Amid Boycott, Violence
Congress to Begin Midterm Election Year With Fed Chair, Unemployment
The U.S. Congress returns to work Monday and are scheduled to vote on President Obama's nomination of Janet Yellen as head of the Federal Reserve and a three-month extension on federal benefits for an estimated 1.3 million long-term unemployed (AP).
This Backgrounder explains the role of the Fed chairman in carrying out the Fed's dual mandate of maintaining stable prices and full employment.