MODERATES POST WINS IN IRAN. Moderate candidates were largely restricted from the parliamentary elections in Iran on Friday, but that didn’t keep those candidates who were allowed to run from sweeping the slate in the capital of Tehran, and posting the strongest showing nationwide. Why does this matter to the United States? Because these elections were also seen as a referendum on the Iran nuclear deal — whether it would embolden the hard-liners or open the door to moderates taking power.
President Obama and his supporters had argued that the nuclear deal was necessary to bring about a moderate shift in Iran that was just waiting for an economic and political opportunity; Obama’s toughest Republican critics have argued the deal would only strengthen the hand of hard-liners already in power and fuel spending on terrorism. Of course, the elections are just one marker in how Iran conducts itself since the pact was struck. Iran has also launched test ballistic missiles, and even members of Obama’s administration assume some of the money freed up by the lifting of sanctions will flow to armed groups the United States considers a regional threat.
CLINTON IN LIBYA. It’s the latest flashpoint in the Islamic State threat, and Western troops are starting to inch back toward northern Libya in an attempt to hold off the militants building a stronghold there. It’s also a country closely tied to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s term as secretary of state. The New York Times has taken a deep, two-part look at how Clinton pushed for the intervention that took out local strongman leader Muammar Gaddafi, how the Libya’s security unraveled after that, and what it shows about how Clinton makes foreign policy decisions.
ISLAMIC STATE MAKES A MESS IN BAGHDAD. The Islamic State may be losing some territory, but they can still make a splash where it hurts, as militants showed this weekend in strikes on Baghdad. ISIS members are believed to have detonated six car bombs, while two suicide bombers hit a market later in the day. At least 28 people are dead.
The attacks are the most severe in over a year. They indicate that even with wizened resources and lost territory, ISIS fighters maintain the ability to launch devastating and destabilizing attacks in vulnerable, public spaces – even as Iraq scrambles to build its security infrastructure and its military power to try to take out the extremist group in its strongholds.