World News Brief, Wednesday April 15

Iraq seeks more US support against Islamic state; China releases five women detained after campaigning against sexual harassment; UN to vote on Yemen arms embargo; Chile enacts civil union law; and more


Iraqi PM to Seek More U.S. Support Against Islamic State

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will meet (Reuters) with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday to discuss the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Abadi is expected to request more military assistance. The militants have lost (AFP) between 25 and 30 percent of the territory it holds following coalition airstrikes and a series of Iraqi offensives, according to the Pentagon. Explosions in and around Baghdad killed (AP) more than a dozen people on Tuesday as Iraqi security forces pushed back against Islamic State militants attacks on Baiji, home to Iraq's largest oil refinery. Meanwhile, four former Blackwater security guards were sentenced (Al Jazeera) to long prison terms on Monday for the deaths of fourteen unarmed Iraqis in Baghdad's Nisur Square in 2007.


"We are going to have to convince Abadi to let us help him put his own house in order, build a staff that can run the country, and allow Ambassador Jones to act as a surrogate for the fissiparous Sunni leadership. That won't be easy, but it will be much easier if the prime minister comes away convinced that he can rely on the United States to be steadfast, committed and generous in a way that we simply have not been for the past five years," writes Brookings Institution's Kenneth Pollack.

"Beyond boots on the ground, however, there is a larger war being fought: to convince Iraqi Sunnis that their Shiite-led government will protect them. If Baghdad tries to win the battle of Mosul without first showing that its forces are a better bet than the Islamic State, the military campaign could fail," writes Lara Jakes in Foreign Policy.

"After the Obama administration formally requested a new war authorization in February, lawmakers failed to settle their differences over its scope and nature. The administration appears resigned to continuing to rely on the expansive war authorizations passed more than a decade ago for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq’s battlefields, which the United States is shaping from the air, warrant a genuine debate about the goals and risks of American involvement," writes the New York Times


China Releases Women Activists

Authorities in China released (RFA) five women who were detained on March 8 while campaigning against sexual harassment. The women, whose arrests were condemned internationally (Reuters), were released on conditional bail, according to a defense lawyer.

THAILAND: The Obama administration nominated (Bloomberg) Glyn Davies to become the next ambassador to Thailand, a position that has been vacant for six months. Davies, a career diplomat, previously served as special representative for North Korean policy, and envoy to both the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. 


UN to vote on Yemen arms embargo

Chile enacts civil union law

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