Militants stormed an Iraqi military base near the northern city of Mosul killing an estimated 20 soldiers. Reports conflict over when and how the soldiers were killed, with some reports saying the attack came Saturday night, and others earlier in the week. Also, medical officials said some soldiers were executed, some with their hands tied, while a police major contradicted those reports. Some officials also said the soldiers had been kidnapped from the base. The forces were responsible for protecting an oil pipeline and a highway in the area. Meanwhile, civilians and hospital sources have accused the Iraqi government of shelling civilian areas of Fallujah with barrel bombs in its fight to drive out Islamist militants. Fighting in Iraq's western Anbar province has continued into a fifth month, forcing thousands of civilians from their homes and dramatically impacting the economy.
Campaigning began Sunday ahead of Syria's June 3 presidential election, in which President Bashar al-Assad is widely expected to win a third seven-year term. The vote will be Syria's first multi-candidate presidential election with two relatively unknown candidates challenging Assad: Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar and Hassan Abdullah Nouri. Meanwhile, residents returned to Homs after the last busloads of rebel fighters left the Old City on Friday in part of an evacuation deal negotiated with the government. Though the deal appeared successful, U.N. officials cautioned there is no solution in sight to end the Syrian civil war or ameliorate the severe humanitarian crisis.
- A suspected U.S. drone strike in southern Yemen killed up to six alleged al Qaeda militants Monday a day after a suicide bomber killed 11 police officers near a police station in the city of Mukalla.
- At least 36 people have died and 42 remain missing after a boat carrying mostly African migrants capsized last week off the coast of Libya.
- A U.N. report has noted that Iran's attempts to illegally procure materials for its nuclear and missile program have decreased ahead of a new round of talks this week between Tehran and World Powers.
- Presidential frontrunner and former General Sisi said Egypt would see an improvement in two years, "if things go according to plan," and that he would resign from office if his presidency provokes mass protests.
Arguments and Analysis
'The ICC in Syria: Three Red Lines' (Mark Kersten, Justice in Conflict)
"Still, unlike Darfur and Libya, the Office of the Prosecutor now has the time to develop a coherent and rigorous position regarding a Syria referral. And if the Prosecutor can't be proactive in ascertaining the political risks in accepting certain referrals, perhaps it is time that an independent referral review panel be set up advise the Court.
While it is extremely unlikely that the ICC would reject a referral of Syria, the ICC has a problem when it comes to its relationship with the Security Council. A potential Syria referral offers the opportunity to think critically and clearly about what, exactly, the Court wants that relationship to look like."
'Lebanon union strike not helping the economy' (Sami Nader, Al-Monitor)
"The crisis of the ranks and salaries scale, which is pushing the country toward an economic and social explosion, has revealed the depth of the structural problem, represented by the size of the public sector relative to the Lebanese economy. It should be noted that the total salaries and wages in the public sector, if the budget is approved as is, represents 15.5% of the gross domestic product and 54.2% of state expenses. The rate in Europe is 20% of state expenses. For example, if we look at the number of teachers in the public sector - the ranks and salaries scale primarily concerns them - we find that the student-teacher ratio is 7-to-1, while the global average is about 20-to-1.
This shows how much the public sector has grown. Successive governments have avoided facing the problem despite the recommendations of international institutions, from the World Bank to the International Monetary Fund, which called for reducing the size of the administration.
This is the bitter reality, which should be blamed neither on the workers nor the employers, but on political clientelism, corruption and the absence of good governance."-- Mary Casey
Sadam el-Mehmedy/AFP/Getty Images