What We're Watching: Turkey targets Iraqi Kurds, virus back in NZ, Irish government deal

Iraqi Kurds, beware of "Claw Eagle:" Turkish special forces have crossed into northern Iraq as part of a new offensive — dubbed "Operation Claw Eagle" by Ankara — to fight Kurdish militants there. The latest move follows Turkish airstrikes against Kurdistan People's Party forces earlier this week in response to attacks by Kurdish militants on army bases and police stations in southern Turkey. The Turkish military has battled rebel Kurds in northern Iraq for decades, but this time signs of Iranian air support suggest close cooperation between Ankara and Tehran, which is also keen to keep a lid on the ambitions of ethnic Kurds inside Iran.


New Zealand loses its zero status: Barely a week after declaring itself COVID-free, New Zealand has ordered the military to oversee border quarantine facilities after two people with coronavirus were prematurely released into the country after arriving from the UK. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been praised for her deft and compassionate handling of the epidemic, acknowledged the "unacceptable failure" and appointed the armed forces to audit and enforce the country's strict quarantine policy for people arriving from abroad. Dozens of countries around the world still have travel restrictions in place, but as they begin cautiously reopening their borders to tourism and commerce, the challenges of detecting and containing coronavirus outbreaks will be immense.

From rivals to (government) partners: In the latest example of established parties striking strange alliances in order to keep anti-establishment parties from taking power, Ireland's two main political parties, the rival center-right Fianna Fail and the center-left Fine Gael, have reached a deal to form a coalition government for the first time ever. The move, after months of political impasse, is designed to keep left-wing Sinn Fein, traditionally ostracized over its former ties to IRA terrorists in Northern Ireland, out of government. Sinn Fein achieved its best-ever results in the February election, coming in second overall, but fell short of a majority to form a government. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael — which have taken turns in power since Irish independence in 1905 — will rotate the position of Taoiseach (prime minister) for the next four years.
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