Sunday Readings

Al Qaeda’s Resurgence Evidence In Recent Attacks In Iraq, Syria
Bruce Reidel writes in the Daily Beast about the resurgence of al-Qaeda throughout the Middle East. Disabled, but not defeated, al Qaeda has killed more than 500 in Iraq this month alone and those forces based in Iraq are also behind a growing presence in Syria. And it was behind a recent jail break by 1,000 prisoners in Libya.

According to Reidel, a protégé of al Qaeda in Iraq’s leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi is Muhammad al Golani, who was sent by al Qaeda in Iraq to set up the al Nusra Front in 2011 and had established itself as one of the most effective groups in the Syrian opposition movement to Bashar al-Assad’s government by mid-2012.

The resurgence is critically important in the context of Afghanistan post-American withdrawal.

“All of which means that if American pressure on al Qaeda in Pakistan diminishes after the NATO withdrawal of combat forces next year from Afghanistan, we can expect a rapid regeneration of al Qaeda in Pakistan. The drones all fly from bases in Afghanistan, without which there is no pressure on al Qaeda next door in Pakistan. Iraq is a sobering lesson in what happens when a battered al Qaeda movement gets a second chance,” warns Reidel.

Syria: The View From The Arab World
The European C0uncil on Foreign Relations lays out the crisis in Syria from the vantage point of those nations in the region.

The Rise Of The Robots
Robert Manning of the Atlantic Council examines how the application of robotics, including intelligent machines, are becoming more commonplace and what the impact will be on future jobs and employment. He also addresses some of the ethical issues that may arise as robots infiltrate aspects of our lives from the household to applications in national security.

Chinese Industrialization Is Fueling The Economy – And Burning Down Is Rural Lands
Josh Chin and Brian Spegle provide a look at the underbelly of China’s industrialization – the increasing destruction of the nation’s rural lands.

They write: “Estimates from state-affiliated researchers say that anywhere between 8% and 20% of China’s arable land, some 25 to 60 million acres, may now be contaminated with heavy metals. A loss of even 5% could be disastrous, taking China below the “red line” of 296 million acres of arable land that are currently needed, according to the government, to feed the country’s 1.35 billion people.”

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