Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The New Yorker

On the American Front Line Against ISIS
By Robin Wright 
America’s front line facing the Islamic State is more than two thousand miles from Brussels, as the crow flies, and then another ninety minutes by country road from the Kurdish capital of Erbil, in northern Iraq. The trip to Camp Swift, in Makhmour, the forward U.S. base, can be deceptively pastoral. I was slowed by a flock of sheep and goats crossing the road to a grassy plain sprinkled with budding yellow wildflowers. A curly-haired eighteen-year-old sheepherder, Mustafa Maghdid, picked up a young lamb to show me. A woolly white ram played at his feet. Millions of Iraqis fled as ISIS blitzed through the north, in 2014, but a determined few have been reluctant to surrender their herds or small farms. Tales of ISIS’s plunder are rampant. There is little left, according to the war grapevine, for those who may one day want to return.

The farming district of Makhmour is also one of the areas where ISIS has used primitive but deadly forms of chemical weapons—mustard gas and chlorine—since last August, most recently last month. It’s also the place where a Marine was killed this month by ISIS rocket fire. He was the second American killed since the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, in 2011. He was deployed just 15 minutes from the border of the Islamic State's caliphate. 

Read on....

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/on-the-american-front-line-against-isis

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The New Yorker

The Bride Wore Green
What a Wedding Says about Iran's Future
By Robin Wright 
Wearing a flowing green gown and a string of pearls that hung, flapper-style, below her waist, Narges Mousavi was married Friday, in Tehran. The bride, a painter, was born into the revolutionary √©lite. Her father, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was Iran’s Prime Minister for eight years. In the eighties, he led the new Islamic Republic through a grisly eight-year war with Iraq at a time when the world sided largely with Saddam Hussein, and in 2009 he ran for the Presidency. The bride’s mother is Zahra Rahnavard, a sculptor and the Islamic Republic’s first female university chancellor. During her husband’s campaign, the Iranian media compared Rahnavard’s lively appearances to Michelle Obama’s.
Neither of Mousavi’s parents attended the wedding. For the past five years, they have been under house arrest for their role in the Green Movement protests that challenged the 2009 election results. They have never been charged, never tried—just isolated. Narges, the youngest of their three daughters, can see her parents only when she receives a call telling her to visit. Visits are limited to an hour.
Read on...



Friday, March 4, 2016

The New Yorker

Will the US Olympic Flag-Bearer Be Wearing Hijab? 
By Robin Wright 
This is one of my favorite stories in years. Ibtihaj Muhammad--or Ibti to her friends--has defied discrimination as both an African-American and a Muslim to become an Olympian at this summer's games in Rio. She will be the first ever American competing in any sport in hijab. Her story is so compelling--defiantly braving all the odds to rise to excellence--that I'm betting she carries the flag for Team USA. In a speech on February 3, Obama dared her to bring home the gold. 
Read on...
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/will-americas-olympic-flag-bearer-be-wearing-a-hijab?intcid=mod-latest


Thursday, March 3, 2016

The New Yorker

Is ISIS Finally Hurting? 
By Robin Wright 

For the first time since its blitz across Syria and Iraq, in 2014, the Islamic State is on the defensive in both countries. Its caliphate is shrinking. Its numbers are down. It hasn’t launched a new offensive since May, 2015. The new U.S. Expeditionary Targeting Force in Iraq—led by some 50 Delta Force commandos—has scored the first capture of a key ISIS operative. Yet ISIS has become a global phenomenon over the past year, attracting pledges of fealty from extremist groups on three continents. It remains the world’s wealthiest terrorist organization, and the first to create its own state, from large swaths of both Iraq and Syria, with a capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa. Here's a full status report--from the US vantage point. I saw down with the President's Special Envoy to counter ISIS to get his assessment. Read on....
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/is-the-islamic-state-hurting-the-presidents-point-man-on-isis-speaks-out?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The New Yorker

 Iran's Election Message to Hardliners
By Robin Wright 
Over the weekend, as Iran's election results showed that long-entrenched hard-liners were losing, a new joke circulated in Tehran: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had called Secretary of State John Kerry with an offer: “John, we have just succeeded in defeating our hard-liners. Let us know if you want advice on how to beat Mr. Trump.”
My piece for The New Yorker on Iran's important poll.


Read on....
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/irans-voters-sent-a-message-to-the-hard-liners?