Wednesday Brief

China Remains On Sidelines As Iraq Crumbles
Despite purchasing 1.5 million barrels of oil per day and having major financial investments in Iraq, China has remained silent concerning the current crisis in the Middle East nation, writes The Diplomat’s Shannon Tiezzi.

She believes that while China is uneasy about the spread of terrorism, it does not view the advance of terrorists in Iraq as a direct threat yet.

“As China’s global presence continues to expand, regional crises will have more and more of a direct impact on Chinese interests. The violence in Iraq poses a challenge not just to China’s oil interests, but to China’s general foreign policy principles. At what point will Chinese interests begin to outweigh its principle of non-interference in others’ affairs? The South Sudan crisis posed one such challenge; the Iraq crisis may prove even trickier for Beijing to handle,” says Tiezzi.

Former NATO Secretary-General Speaks Out On Iraq, Middle East
Javier Solana, former Secretary-General of NATO and Foreign Minister of Spain, contends that recent gains made by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria shows the need for a broader, more balanced negotiation process, guided by regional and global actors, to achieve stability in Iraq and the region.

“ISIS’s rise underscores the urgent need for fresh, creative diplomacy in Syria that can break the deadlock both on the battlefield and in the negotiating room – a challenge that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent electoral victory has deepened. New negotiating parameters are also needed to resolve the conflict in Iraq, reach a peace settlement between Israel and Palestine, and, ultimately, establish a stable balance of power in the Middle East that reconciles the influence of Sunni Saudi Arabia and that of Shia Iran,” writes Solana.

Is Terrorism Funding The Global (And Illegal) Antiquities Trade?
Heather Pringle has an article in National Geographic examining the shadowy world of the illegal antiquities trade and its ties to global terrorism.

According to Pringle, several new studies link antiquities traffickers to a range of serious crimes, including corruption, money laundering, prostitution, and the smuggling of drugs and endangered wildlife.

“Moreover, new evidence from Afghanistan and Iraq suggests that artifact smuggling networks are closely connected with violent insurgents. As a result, researchers are urging government officials and law enforcement agencies to crack down harder on the trafficking networks. Like blood diamonds, researchers say, blood antiquities may well be helping to finance terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere,” she writes.

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