A Caliphate Is Declared In The Middle East As Democracy Finds New Hope In Asia

ISIS Puts It All On The Line When It Declares A Caliphate
This weekend the extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) declared they have established a caliphate the stretches across Syria and Iraq.

J.M. Berger of The Daily Beast says it is a “massive gamble” and the “boldest move yet by the group,” which could reap great benefit or be the biggest mistake.

“But if ISIS isn’t careful, this could be the moment when all of its gains in Iraq and Syria are squandered; when would-be allies are alienated; and when the group’s critics within the jihadi community were proven right all along,” he writes.

Tom Rogan echoes this assessment in The National Review. In a blog post, he contends ISIS may be its own worst enemy.

“The more territory ISIS controls, the harder the territory will be to hold (especially if it faces insurrections). From maps of territory presently under ISIS control, it’s clear that the group has vulnerable supply lines. Most estimates are that ISIS has under 10,000 combat troops, and dominating vast areas of both Syria and Iraq is a major task. And that’s just today. As Iraqi military pressure grows alongside new American support, ISIS will be forced to make hard choices about what to retain and what to surrender. The abovementioned factors surrounding ISIS ideology and governance will further complicate its ability to navigate this process. Even then, wherever ISIS tries to hold territory, it will be forced to adopt more-formal command structures and a more overt defensive military posture. Such adaptions will render the group vulnerable to U.S. intelligence monitoring and targeting,” Rogan argues before quickly adding that they are a threat which cannot be ignored.

The declaration drew a quick response from Iraqi army spokesman Qassim Atta, who said it is “a message by Islamic State not only to Iraq or Syria but to the region and the world. The message is that Islamic State has become a threat to all countries.”

Is Trust Making A Comeback?
Brian Chesky, the co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, an online marketplace for people to rent out their homes, says technology is fostering a renewal of trust among neighbors and changing the urban landscape.

“”At the most macro level, I think we’re going to go back to the village, and cities will become communities again, I’m not saying they’re not communities now, but I think that we’ll have this real sensibility and everything will be small. You’re not going to have big chain restaurants. We’re starting to see farmers’ markets, and small restaurants, and food trucks. But pretty soon, restaurants will be in people’s living rooms,” he says in an interview with The Atlantic.

Is Democracy Gaining in India And Hong Kong?
Nishant Dahiya of National Public Radio interviews reporter Simon Denyer about his new book, Rogue Elephant: Harnessing the Power of India’s Unruly Democracy.

Meanwhile, a 10-day, non-binding referendum is giving new hope to efforts to bring democracy to Hong Kong and have a greater say in selecting their leader.

About 787,000 people participated in the online vote, which Chinese authorities denounced as illegal.

But, not everything went according to plan as the voting was disrupted by hackers and planned protests this week are drawing the ire of  some businesses, who are concerned about the impact of planned protests.

“Some businesses have expressed alarm at the possibility that the city’s financial hub could be paralyzed by such a protest. Last week, the local offices of the so-called big-four accounting firms took out ads in Hong Kong newspapers, saying they were concerned that Occupy Central “would have a negative and long-lasting impact on the rule of law, the society, and the economy of Hong Kong. We hope that the disagreements could be resolved through negotiation and dialogue instead.” On Monday, some employees of the companies took out advertisements of their own, saying they disagreed with their bosses’ ads,” reports Julie Makinen of The Los Angeles Times.


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