World News Brief, Wednesday May 27

Iraqi forces launch Anbar offensive; China releases expansive new naval strategy; mass  graves found at Malay-Thai border thought to be human trafficking victims; Afghan officials in secret peace talks with Taliban; US-Mexico border slammed by storms; and more


Iraqi Forces Launch Anbar Offensive

A coalition of Iraqi forces, consisting of both government soldiers and Shiite militias, launched a major counteroffensive (Al Jazeera) Tuesday against the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq’s western Anbar province. The offensive aims to recapture the regional capital of Ramadi, which fell to Islamic State forces earlier this month despite ongoing U.S airstrikes against the group. U.S. policymakers have expressed concern (Reuters) that the Iraqi government’s reliance on Iranian-backed Shiite militias will further stoke sectarian tensions and alienate the local population in Sunni-majority Anbar. In an interview published Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said (WaPo) that Iraqi troops must develop the "will to fight" the Islamic State.


"Where does all this leave Washington? In the first place, its long-standing hope that ISIS could somehow be defeated without western, and particularly American, boots on the ground has been proved once and for all to be a quixotic pipedream," argues Dov Zakheim in National Interest.

"What accounts for the Iraqi military’s failure? Many problems stem from the Bush Administration decision to disband the existing Iraq military in 2003 and build a new one from scratch. Intended to rid the institution of officers linked to Saddam Hussein, the move instead left thousands of armed men unemployed and embittered," writes Matt Schiavenza in the Atlantic.

"The stories of two men from Anbar provide a glimpse into why efforts to stop the Islamic State’s advance in the province have so far failed, and also into how local Sunni leaders might react to the influx of Iran-backed Shiite militiamen that will likely follow Ramadi’s fall, " writes David Kenner for Foreign Policy.


China Reveals Expanded Naval Strategy

The Chinese navy released an expansive new naval strategy (SCMP), updating its mission from "offshore defense" to a broader concept of "open seas protection,"  interpreted by the United States and its regional allies as a more aggressive stance (FT) that will increase the potential for conflict in the East and South China seas. On Tuesday, Chinese officials also broke ground on new construction on the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

This article by CFR’s Robert Rubin and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson argues that the United States and China must better listen to each other.

MALAYSIA: Authorities reported the discovery (Malay Mail) of over one hundred mass graves at a series of jungle camps on the border with Thailand, thought to be the remains of human trafficking victims.


Afghan officials in secret peace talks with Taliban

US-Mexico border slammed by storms

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