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According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Islamic State forces were closing in on capturing the Syrian town of Kobani on Tuesday. This development was of particular concern to Erdogan, as Kobani is close to the border between Syria and his own country.

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On Monday, a series of three coordinated bombings targeting landmark hotels in Baghdad killed at least 36 people and wounded 71, according to The New York Times. Also Monday, Iraqis hung Saddam Hussein's cousin and former aide Ali Hassan al-Majeed --aka "Chemical Ali" -- for crimes against humanity, largely for his role in the mass killing of Iraqi Kurds in 1988.

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At least some of the gunfire heard in Baghdad on Sunday was celebratory, for a change: Jubilant Iraqis flouted a government ban by firing shots into the air following Iraq's 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in the final match of the Asian Cup soccer tournament.

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Muqtada al-Sadr may call for a monthlong unilateral cease-fire amid the formation of a new political coalition in Iraq. Sadr is set to meet Thursday with key Shiite political leaders and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to discuss his role, or lack thereof, in the changing political landscape.

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Iraqi politicians have been meeting, with help from the Bush administration, to see if they can form a new coalition in Parliament to sideline the troublemaking Moqtada al-Sadr. The new group of Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites would have to attract moderates to find a way to handle Sadr's militia, with its estimated 60,000 men.

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The semiautonomous northern region of Iraq is an island of relative stability in an ocean of turmoil. If America does not support Kurdistan's independence, we may well lose our best shot of having a desperately needed secular ally in the region. New America Foundation fellow Parag Khanna, just back from the area, reports.

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