Iraqi and Kurdish troops to recapture the city of Mosul

The long-expected battle to seize back Mosul after more than two years of ISIS control has begun with military units moving on the northern part of the Iraqi city.

After months of planning, 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops have surrounded the last urban stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq for several days, giving a start to the most critical assault against the caliphate. US, British and French special forces are also taking part in the offensive and will play a significant role, especially in airstrikes against ISIS targets inside Mosul.

Since ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of a caliphate in June 2014, Mosul has been central to the group’s objectives. It is believed that they have about 6,000 fighters ready to defend the city, hidden among approximately 600,000 civilians.

Triumph over ISIS seems to be likely. However there are great concerns about the terrible effects this decisive offensive may have on the civilians: International humanitarian agencies are preparing themselves for the aftermath of this battle.

The course of Yemen’s war could drastically change

The air raid on Saturday, which hit a funeral with thousands of mourners in Yemen’s rebel-held capital, Sana’a, killed 140 and left 525 people wounded. It was one of the deadliest attacks of the country’s civil war since the Saudi-led coalition started a campaign of airstrikes against the Houthi-Saleh alliance in March 2015.

The conflict in the country broke out in 2014 when rebels known as the Houthis took the capital by force and sent the government into exile. The Houthis are allied with army units loyal to a former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and they have been struggling for control of the country against groups that are loyal to the current president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is supported by Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies.

The airstrikes on Saturday came after a period of escalation since August, when the last round of peace talks definitely broke down. The last attack seems to impede any return to talks aimed at ending the conflict, while stimulating support in northern Yemen for military escalation against Saudi Arabia. Instability and uncertainty rule the country at the moment.

The attack has been condemned by the UN, the European Union and the United States. The US, like the UK and other European countries, supplies arms to Saudi Arabia and practical military advice. After the last attack’s repercussion, the White House issued a statement affirming that it had begun an “immediate review” of its support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen “to better align with U.S. principles, values and interests”.

Brexit o no Brexit

Según testimonios del Tesoro británico “El Reino Unido sería permanente más pobre si dejara la UE” tras las votaciones del próximo junio, de hecho habría algunas firmas que estarían sufriendo ya por ello. El documento publicado por el Tesoro contempla tres diferentes alternativas para Reino Unido en caso de que salga de la UE:

  • Incorporarse al Área Económica Europea (EEA)
  • Negociación de un acuerdo bilateral (como Suiza)
  • Relacionarse con la Unión Europea a través de la OMC

Aun así el análisis llevado acabo constata que sea cual sea la alternativa elegida la economía del Reino Unido se reduciría, bajaría tanto el comercio como la inversión.

The UK challenge to the EU

Earlier this week Prime Minister David Cameron outlined his four goals for reforming the UK’s membership of the EU. He said both the in and out situation was a “huge decision” but he was confident he could get what he wanted from these reform talks. Furthermore, he affirmed that it is what is best for the UK and the European Union. Prime Minister Cameron set out his demands in a formal letter addressed to the President of the EU Council Donald Tusk. The objectives are the following:

  • Protection of the single market for Britain and other non-euro countries
  • Boosting competitiveness by setting a target for the reduction of the “burden” of red tape
  • Exempting Britain from “ever-closer union” and bolstering national parliaments
  • Restricting EU migrants’ access to in-work benefits such as tax credits

The reaction from other governments and the EU has been fast. A spokesman for the European Commission said that the proposals were “highly problematic”, that they affected “Fundamental freedoms” and that they involve “direct discrimination between EU citizens.”

Furthermore, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they would work towards finding a solution that suits everyone, and that she is confident they would be able to reach one.  Another huge challenge to the EU!