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Despite Bombing, Islamic State is no Weaker than a Year Ago

After billions of dollars spent and more than 10,000 extremist fighters killed, the Islamic State group is fundamentally no weaker than it was when the U.S.-led bombing campaign began a year ago, American intelligence agencies have concluded.

The military campaign has prevented Iraq's collapse and put the Islamic State under increasing pressure in northern Syria, particularly squeezing its self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa. But intelligence analysts see the overall situation as a strategic stalemate: The Islamic State remains a well-funded extremist army able to replenish its ranks with foreign jihadis as quickly as the U.S. can eliminate them. Meanwhile, the group has expanded to other countries, including Libya, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Afghanistan.

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In Iraq Bastions, PKK Braces for New War with Turkey

Pointing to a crater left by one of scores of Turkish air strikes in Iraq's Kurdistan region, a PKK rebel official said that "Turkey has declared war against us".

For three decades, Turkey was at war with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which was seeking an independent state in southeastern Anatolia.

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Mullah Omar's Death: Taliban's Loss, Islamic State's Gain

Mullah Omar's death poses an existential crisis for the Afghan Taliban, analysts say, potentially presaging a splintering of the movement as the Islamic State group gains a toehold among insurgents enthralled by its battlefield prowess.

The group has suffered a string of recent defections to IS, with some insurgents voicing disaffection with the "ghost leader", who hasn't been seen in public since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the Afghan Taliban from power.

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Allies Tolerate Turkey's Double Game to Boost IS Fight

Turkey's allies know it is playing a double game with its twin onslaught against Kurdish rebels and the Islamic State group, but are turning a blind eye to keep NATO's only Muslim member on side, analysts said.

The very public show of solidarity for Turkey's fight against "terrorism" at an emergency NATO meeting on Tuesday hid the discomfort some allies feel about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's strategy.

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Mullah Omar: Taliban's Mysterious One-Eyed Supremo

Taliban chief Mullah Omar has cast a long shadow over Afghanistan ever since he led a young band of zealots to power almost two decades ago, imposing brutal Islamist rule over the country.

The current Kabul government is investigating reports of his death, a presidential spokesman said Wednesday, amid frenzied speculation about the rumored demise of the reclusive warrior-cleric.

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El Dorado or Pipe Dream? Calais Migrants Hope for New Life in UK

Thousands of migrants are trying to cross the Channel from France in search of a better life in Britain -- but what makes them risk their lives traveling from one wealthy European country to another?

The answer is partly down to the allure of living in a country where many of them speak the language, English, and where they might have family or cultural connections, experts say.

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Analysis: Like Iran, Pacts with USSR Ignored Foe's Behavior

Critics of the Iran nuclear deal claim it is flawed, among many reasons, because it does not demand that Tehran also change its behavior at home and abroad. That complaint ignores the United States' long history of striking arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, a far more dangerous enemy.

Those deals probably made the world a safer place through some of the darkest days of the Cold War, and they proved talks could be productive even with a sworn adversary.

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Iran Deal Fuels Tussle for Gas Pipelines in Pakistan

A landmark deal on Iran's nuclear program has breathed new life into plans for a gas pipeline through Pakistan -- and sparked a geopolitical tussle, with Russia looking to expand its influence, observers say.

With sanctions on Iran likely to ease and peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government getting under way, wrangling is intensifying over the proposed pipelines, which would link Central Asia to the Middle East.

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Turkey Attack Spillover of IS War on Kurds, Say Experts

A deadly suicide bombing in southern Turkey appears to be part of the Islamic State group's war against the Kurds, and shows the country's growing vulnerability to the conflict in neighboring Syria, analysts say.

The attack on Monday on a gathering of pro-Kurdish activists in Suruc along the Turkish-Syrian border, which killed at least 32 people, bore the hallmarks of the Sunni extremist organization.

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Return of Iranian Oil May Cause More OPEC Tensions

The return of oil from Iran following the landmark nuclear energy deal with world powers could create fresh tensions within OPEC but may reinforce the cartel's output strategy, analysts say.

Tehran and major powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- clinched a historic agreement in Vienna on Tuesday aimed at ensuring Iran does not obtain a nuclear bomb, and which paves the way for the removal of sanctions and the gradual return of Iranian oil to the global market next year.

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