The five remaining Republican presidential candidates debated in Houston, Texas, Thursday night in their final showdown before Super Tuesday. Candidates Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kaisch and Ben Carson all attacked front-runner Donald Trump, who has won three out of the four primaries and caucuses to date. This comes as former Mexican President Vicente Fox spoke out in an interview with Univision and Fusion host Jorge Ramos about Trump’s repeated calls to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which Trump says he would make Mexico pay for.
Vicente Fox: “I declare, I’m not going to pay for that [blee] wall. He should pay for it. He’s got the money.”
Meanwhile, white nationalist and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke is using his radio program to urge listeners to support Trump, saying Wednesday, “voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage.” Duke went on to encourage listeners to go to Trump’s headquarters to volunteer, saying, “Go in there. You’re gonna meet people who are going to have the same kind of mindset that you have.”
Iranians voted in unexpectedly large numbers on Friday in the first polls since last summer’s landmark nuclear agreement and the lifting of sanctions in a key test of whether supporters of President Hassan Rouhani can gain ground from conservatives and anti-western hardliners.
Voting was extended for five hours in the evening because of what state TV described as a “rush” that caused shortages of ballot papers. Experts say a high turnout – widely predicted to hit 70% – will favour the Rouhani camp. The president himself spoke of an “epic” turnout after casting his vote.
Polling stations across Tehran were busy into the evening, fuelling hopes for a good result for the reformist-moderate alliance and increased support for Rouhani in the 290-seat parliament, or Majlis. A parallel contest is taking place for the assembly of experts, a clerical body whose 88 members have to choose the next supreme leader after the 76-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have subjected foreign nationals in secret detention to electric shocks, beatings and other abuses, according to evidence shared with the Guardian by multiple sources within the country.
The evidence depicts a variety of brutal techniques employed by UAE interrogators on several foreign nationals, including two Americans, a Canadian and two Libyans, detained since August 2014, most of the time without charge. According to sources in the UAE, each of the prisoners suffered severe beatings, sometimes with rods, sometimes in what was called a “boxing ring”, and sometimes while suspended from a chain.
Other techniques described include electric shocks, prying off fingernails, pouring insects on to the inmates, dousing prisoners with cold water in front of a fan, sleep deprivation for up to 20 days, threats of rape and sexual harassment, and, in two cases, sexual abuse.
The evidence from several sources, shared on condition of anonymity, follows previous claims of torture by family members of the prisoners.
1: The Gulf War 25 Years Later: a US Triumph that Spawned a Problem
The first Persian Gulf War, which ended 25 years ago to the day on Friday, seems like a distant memory in the age of asymmetric warfare and open-ended fights against irregular armed groups.
The war itself, though preceded by months of build-up, lasted all of a month and a half until coalition troops, led by the United States, entered Kuwait City on February 27, 1991. In the United States, it was one day earlier, because of time zones.
The American-helmed operation to drive the Iraqi army out of Kuwait was initially a cathartic, vindicating win for the United States. The US military redeemed its post-Vietnam image and proved its technological might.
“Tonight in Iraq, Saddam walks amidst ruin,” President George H.W. Bush declared in a victory address to Congress on March 6th, 1991. “His war machine is crushed. His ability to threaten mass destruction is itself destroyed.”
The triumphant tone that characterized the president’s address was the order of the day in the immediate aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, as the war was code-named. “Although Saddam remained in power,” wrote Lawrence Wright in The Looming Tower, his Pulitzer Prize-winning account of Al Qaeda’s rise, “that seemed to be a footnote to the awesome display of American military force and the international coalition that rallied behind US leadership.”
Those victories look dimmer in 2016. The history of the first Persian Gulf War is being rewritten by the succeeding one; it is now the prologue to decades of American involvement in the Middle East. As journalist Rick Atkinson points out in Crusade, his lengthy account of the 1991 conflict, “the sense of the war as a watershed proved ephemeral.”
“At the time [the Gulf War] may have looked like a fairly clear-cut, simple, reversing of aggression,” said Dr. Richard Lacquement, Dean of Strategic Landpower at the US Army War College. “Our focus was on liberating Kuwait and making sure aggression did not pay… and that as a summary of what happened is very fair.”
But the First Gulf War wasn’t as cut-and-dried as that, and now American strategic thinkers are going back to it and looking at its deeper implications — and teaching them to future Army officers.
“We were very fortunate in that we had many fewer casualties than anybody anticipated. So it looked, probably, more clean and sterile and simple,” said Lacquement. “It isn’t simple. These things are costly, and they do tend to have lingering effects. They don’t tend to wrap up neatly.”
These lessons are among those the US Army War College hoped to convey to its graduate students when it added a four-day Gulf War case study at the beginning of its graduate-level strategic studies course this academic year. “There’s a larger strategic lesson,” Lacquement said. “It’s the idea that there is a continuum of how states interact, how our national security policy is shaped by our history, the ways that we interact with other states, and the way military history plays out.”
“We were looking for a historical case that allowed us right at the beginning of the curriculum to show the students how to think about these key themes of national security policy in the context of a war at the strategic level,” he said.
The ripple effects of Desert Storm are easy to point out today. Despite the swiftness of coalition victory, the retreat of the Iraqi army did not mean the end of conflict, but rather the beginning of deep American involvement; the US has been in the area since, maintaining bases in Saudi Arabia and in neighboring countries even before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In fact, the symbolism of the ongoing American presence in the Gulf throughout the 1990s was a major grievance around which al-Qaeda rallied and morphed into a worldwide threat.