Week of June 26th

  • After the fall of Islamic State-held Mosul on June 29th, many in Iraq, including Prime Minster Abadi, have declared the end of the caliphate. However, although the defeat of Mosul is a significant setback to IS, it does not indicate yet an end in sight to the proto-state; IS still controls parts of the Old City of Mosul, in addition to various other cities like Raqqa, its Syrian-stronghold. Many assert that Abadi and the Iraqi government forces will have to continue to destabilize and further weaken IS in order to ensure continued defeats, and its eventual phasing out completely. Additionally, Iraq and its international allies will face the immense challenge of post-conflict reconstruction, where the restoration of basic infrastructure such as electricity and roads will prove to be expensive–estimates for how much it will cost to rebuild Mosul have reached $700 million.
  • A team of archaeologists have found at least three human skulls with deeply cut grooves at Turkey’s Göbekli Tepe site. The site is known to have hosted human civilizations for about 10,000 years. The hunter-gatherers who worshiped at Göbekli Tepe, one of the oldest known ritual centers in the world, carved up human skulls in a style not previously seen, although collections of human skulls modified in other ways have been found at several sites from around the same time. These skulls of the recently deceased were carved for use in ceremonies to worship them as ancestors, the researchers propose. It’s also possible that the skull incisions marked deceased individuals who had been especially revered or reviled while alive. The archaeologists who made the discovery are from the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin.
  • The eastern Saudi Arabian town, al-Awamiya, has long been an area plagued by sectarian tensions that are now on the rise. The Saudi Arabian government has initiated demolition processes for around 500 Shiite homes in the historic province of 25,000 residents. The destruction of property has sparked shootouts in the streets between Saudi security forces and Shiite gunmen, causing several civilian casualties. The Shiites who live in the area have complained of discrimination at the hands of Saudi Arabia’s ultraconservative Sunni clerics for decades, and the tensions seem to have gotten worse over the past few weeks. Many speculate that the tensions are on the rise due to increased Saudi Arabian fear of Shiite-led Iran, which is also part of the rationale behind their recent diplomatic break with Qatar.
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