Need To Know
A day after a worrying escalation in violence between Hezbollah and Israel in a disputed border area near Lebanon, there is a relieving but tentative calm. Yesterday morning, Hezbollah attacked an Israeli military convoy, killing two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded by shelling southern Lebanon, killing a Spanish UN peacekeeper. Everyone was nervous that another conflict like the devastating 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon could erupt.
But today, many of those fears are on hold. There has been no new fighting. And while Israel made a strong statement to the United Nations that it would defend itself against Hezbollah, neither side appears interested in escalating the conflict any further. According to Israel’s defense minister, Hezbollah even went so far as to send Israel a message specifically stating that it didn’t want the fighting to get worse. Hezbollah may have just been retaliating for an Israeli airstrike last week that killed several senior Hezbollah members and an Iranian general, and wanted the fighting to stop there.
Given the current chaos in the Middle East, and elevated tensions between Israel and Iran, however, small skirmishes like the ones yesterday could easily spiral out of control. In 2006, 1,000 Lebanese civilians were killed and a million were made refugees.
Want To Know
By now you’ve heard of "American Sniper," the blockbuster directed by Clint Eastwood. It’s based on the book by US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, known as the most lethal sniper in US history. Kyle was most prolific in Iraq.
The people Kyle killed were Iraqis. So GlobalPost went to the movies in Baghdad to see how they reacted. It is a surprising story. In the packed Mansour Mall theater during an opening scene, according to one moviegoer — where Kyle spots a woman and child who appear to be preparing to attack US troops, and hesitates to shoot the child holding a grenade launcher — “everyone was yelling ‘Just shoot him!’”
Some Iraqis bristled that the film focused on the American perspective of the war. One Iraqi filmmaker said he has waited a long time for an American movie about Iraq that gives “justice to the Iraqi people and the events that happened in Iraq.” But he wasn’t surprised that movie has yet to arrive.
Mostly, Iraqis appeared to enjoy the film. For many of them, it is easy to relate to movies about war and conflict. In just the last week, bombings in the Iraqi capital have killed more than 20 people, including at least 13 in a single day. “When Iraqis see a film [about war] they’ll be engaged in it because they feel part of them is there,” the Iraqi filmmaker said.
Strange But True
Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris earlier this month, the French government has turned up the counterterrorism dial in a way that would make the United States proud. Truth is, France was doing counterterrorism American-style long before America. But dealing with so-called “homegrown” terrorists is somewhat new for France. And so Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced he would invest almost $500 million in counterterrorism efforts over the next three years.
The first glimpse of how that money might be spent came Wednesday. First there is a new website and a hashtag (#stopdjihadisme). Then there is this infographic, which helps French citizens determine whether someone has been radicalized or not. Has your loved one stopped watching television? He or she might be a terrorist.