World News Brief, Friday September 19

US House of Representatives agrees to arm Syrian opposition; China lowers borrowing costs; 15 arrested in Australian anti-terror raids; journalist killed in Afghanistan; Scotland votes; and more

Top of the Agenda

House Approves Arming Moderate Syrian Opposition

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve (NYT) President Barack Obama's plan to arm and train Syria's moderate opposition battling the militant ISIS group, granting the president domestic political support (FP). The vote, opposed by more than 40 percent of Democrats, passed by a 273-156 majority (WSJ) in the Republican-controlled House, and is expected to be adopted in the Senate on Thursday. The White House, which has consistently ruled out a ground war, has carried out 174 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq since mid-August (BBC).


"The current crisis gives us an opportunity to restore the proper balance between the branches. America's history since 2001 should compel us to fix the way we make the significant decision to go to war," writes Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) for the New York Times.

"The legal justification the Obama administration relies upon for its war powers is the same one that justifies air strikes against extremist groups in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan—failed or failing states where US counter-terror policy relies on dubious local allies and drone strikes to manage extremist groups. That may well be the future in Iraq and Syria," writes Tim Fernholz for Defense One.

"There may be good reasons to go to war against ISIS, but no one has actually articulated them. Are we protecting Erbil and American personnel? Undertaking a humanitarian mission? Fighting evil? Helping the Free Syrian Army? Assisting Washington's regional allies against the ISIS threat? No one knows, but we are nevertheless turning the aircraft carriers into the wind. This is no way to go to war," writes CFR's Steven A. Cook.



China Lowers Borrowing Costs

China's central bank cut short-term borrowing costs (WSJ) for banks on Thursday as China fights off an economic slowdown. This is the second new stimulus measure announced this week following an injection of $81 billion (WSJ) into the economy.

AUSTALIA: Australian police carried out a series of anti-terrorism raids (Australian) Thursday, arresting fifteen and thwarting a planned public beheading in Sydney, according to intelligence reports.


Journalist killed in Afghanistan

Scotland votes