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In the wake of the September 25 referendum in Kurdistan, the Iraqi government announced on October 15 that it began a military deployment to reestablish authority in Kirkuk in coordination with the Peshmerga. It soon became clear that the Peshmerga mentioned belonged to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)—specifically, the Talabani family wing—which views aggressive moves toward independence with far more skepticism than its political rivals in the Kurdistan Regional Government dominated by Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The PUK drew the ire of fellow Kurds who viewed the deal as facilitating the federal forces’ reclamation of the territory. To complicate matters further, some reports indicated that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) Quds Force leader Qassim Suleimani appears to have played a role in convincing the Talabani family to broker the deal in the absence of any other international or regional mediator. These events highlight the depth of intra-Kurdish divisions at a time of rapidly rising tensions.

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As Tip O’Neill coined it, “all politics is local.” Accordingly, the local dimension of the Kurdistan referendum is a core aspect, but underplayed as the news focuses on regional and international repercussions. The internal political moves that led up to the referendum and the referendum’s results will define KRG politics in the near future, but they are less clear to those outside of the Kurdistan region due to their complexity and language barriers.

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The United Kingdom has long employed a carrot and stick technique when dealing with Egypt, threatening to suspend aid and economic or military dealings in response to the country’s deteriorating human rights situation. However, such ultimatums are often fleeting, as the UK government places its own short-term interests over improvements in Egypt’s human rights record. The risk, though, is that this undermines the human rights situation in Egypt, and by doing so could worsen the security situation in the long run.

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Despite Morocco’s many legal advances in women’s rights, its lack of effective implementation and the existence of legislative loopholes undermines its reputation as an open, tolerant, and progressive country. In recent months, Morocco’s human rights record has come under the scrutiny of international organizations, notably the UN Human Rights Council latest UPR. Morocco’s questionable human rights—and specifically, women’s rights—abuses are a liability to its role as a US ally, a relationship that offers trade, investment, military, and diplomatic benefits to the nation.

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On Sunday, the Trump Administration suspended non-immigrant visas for Turkish citizens. Students, patients seeking American medical treatment, tourists, and business travelers from Turkey will be denied entry until further notice. A previous argument indicated that US President Donald Trump is closing America’s doors to the world—be it with travel bans for mostly Muslim-majority countries, a historically low refugee cap, or ending protections on undocumented young immigrants. The latest move, though, targets a key NATO ally and partner in the fight against terrorism, and undermines an already tense relationship.

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The demonstrations, police repression, and continued violence in al-Hoceima in the northern Rif region of Morocco bring back not only the rebellious past of that region, but also memories among Moroccans of Hassan II’s repression—the so-called years of lead. The events also bring the country full circle back to the beginning of the Arab uprising of 2011 when optimists viewed Mohammed VI’s reasoned reaction to the February 20 uprising as a sign that Morocco had indeed taken a different path from the one taken by the fallen leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and the still standing one in Syria.

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When the extremist group known as the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) was expelled from the northern city of Mosul, locals there were happy. But now, not so much, says Qassim Badran, a former employee of the local power department. The government stopped paying his salary back in 2014 when the Islamic State, or IS, group, took over the city. Even though the federal government said they would start paying civil servants again—and there are many of these because the Iraqi government is the country’s major employer—no money has arrived for Badran and he’s been busy setting up a small store in his garden, so he can actually make some kind of living.

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Despite the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) in Skhirat in 2015, the political situation in Libya appears no closer to being resolved. Indeed, there is now a widening consensus within Libya and among concerned states that the LPA must be amended. Over the last two years, cleavages within Libya deepened amid exacerbating interference from regional and international powers with divergent interests in the conflict. The fractured state of politics at the national level delayed top-down approaches to recovery and reconstruction. As an interim step, in concert with broader efforts to reform the LPA, UN negotiators should consider a process of devolving some power in Libya to local governing bodies.

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Monday’s referendum in Kurdistan resulted in a situation whereby all parties lack good options. To be sure, Masoud Barzani, the leader of Kurdistan Region Government (KRG), achieved some immediate political gains. He managed to mobilize his base by calling for and conducting the referendum despite international objections. In doing so, he strengthened his political stance and forced his Kurdish rivals to follow his leadership, which itself is legally dubious since his term was extended via a partisan agreement of ambiguous legal basis. Though the results are still not finalized, the vote was expected to give a clear ‘yes’ to the call for independence. Now comes the difficult question: what is Barzani going to do with the referendum and its outcome?

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Once the United States fully committed to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh), the ultimate demise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria was never in question. The issue was what to do the ‘day after’ ISIS: specifically, how to transition to a post-ISIS Middle East and to confront the enduring sectarian issues and ethnic fault lines gave rise to ISIS in the first place.

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