Will an air assault be enough?
President Barack Obama has ruled out US ‘boots on the ground’, which means the campaign against the Islamic State will be largely carried out through air strikes and, if needed, special forces. But the question is how effective can air strikes be against a foe as determined as the Islamic State? Consider the facts. Within its ranks, the Islamic State has battle-hardened fighters including military officers from Saddam Hussein’s Ba'athist regime, which was systematically dismantled by US forces after they invaded Iraq.
Many of these Ba'athist officers, who were the elite of their society under Saddam, found themselves suddenly hounded and excluded from the new Shia-led government. Experts believe that these men, even if they don’t share the Islamic State’s extreme ideology, are lending support to it because they hold a grudge against US forces and the Iraqi government.
Interestingly, some of the moderate rebel fighters in Syria who were armed by the US and other western nations to fight Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime, have claimed that the Islamic State militants know how to protect themselves in case of an air attack, and air strikes alone will not be sufficient to defeat them.
However, given the far-reaching capability of American air-power, further territorial advances by the Islamic State are now unlikely. Also, targeted attacks against militant pockets could slowly “degrade” their capability. But to “destroy” them — as Obama has pledged — could take much longer.
The sectarian divide
The reason why even the al-Qaida decided to part ways with the Islamic State is that the al-Qaida leadership wanted to project itself as a pan-Muslim organization. The Islamic State, on the other hand, is a self-proclaimed anti-Shia group. In fact, it is violently opposed to all Muslim minorities who don’t fit into its rigid interpretation of Sunni Islam. Needless to say, with such a fanatical group (with a demonstrated capacity for extreme violence) gaining ground, the Arab States are bound to be deeply uneasy about it. After all, the Arab world is home to several diverse Muslim and even non-Muslim communities. That's why 10 Arab states have hopped on to the anti-Isis bandwagon led by the United States. Their support, military and diplomatic, is crucial in the battle ahead.
The Assad factor
The Islamic State may not have evolved into such a serious threat had it not been for the withering away of the Syrian state from large chunks of the country because of the bloody civil war in Syria. The attempt by the US and other western countries as well as Saudi Arabia to selectively arm what they considered to be ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels was always a high-risk strategy — and it seems to have backfired at least in some respects. There are credible reports that sophisticated Saudi and US weapons are now in the hands of the Islamic State fighters, who were also fighting Assad’s forces to begin with. Know what is Islamic States
The dilemma for American strategists is whether the US should strike a deal with the Syrian regime to seek its support in cornering the Islamic State. That could be a potential game-changer, but the US would have come a full circle in its Syrian policy.
The other big political question for the west is if it should reach out to Iran, which is both a regional superpower and an ally of Assad.
As military strategies are fine-tuned, the coming days will also see a lot of diplomatic maneuvering as the coalition of nations confronts the Islamic State in this volatile part of the world.
From a glistening ocean, or a volcano with fissures, culinary delights for your taste buds, or tropical preserves, to the traditional Hula dance; Hawaii has beauty beyond measures. Hawaii will give you memories for a lifetime. So come down and enjoy the best of all pleasures. Read our Travel Blog on Things to Do in Hawaii for detailed information. Here’s a gist of it. One of the most favorite tourist destinations in the US, Hawaii is also known as a jewel on earth.
Let’s check out what are the must-do activities in Hawaii. It is a must to check out the mesmerizing sunrise after you climb up the Haleakala Mountain. There are biking tours available to the volcano. Check out for Hula performances when you’re around in Hawaii, indeed a must to watch.
Besides peaceful activities, Hawaii has a set of interesting ocean sport activities as well, such as surfing, kiteboarding, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, parasailing, and jet skis. You can enjoy air adventures with helicopter ride, Tandem skydive, and Paragliding.
Hawaii is a dream destination to many, not just for traveling, but it is a marriage destination as well. Besides romantic getaways, Hawaii also has various Heritage sites to check out. The Big Island is home to seven heritage properties, out of which Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Each of the major islands has some interesting heritage sites. So, remember to plan your vacation accordingly and enjoy your stay in Hawaii.
You can explore the new maps of Armenia, Salvador and Fortaleza in our New Maps and Information section, along with more updates. View Hawaii Map to know all major attractions
Since time immemorial, taxis have been a part of our lives in various forms. What was begun by horse carriages, to the modern-day cabs, taxis have come a long way. Who could have guessed that the first taxi in the world was built in 1897 and was named as Daimler Victoria. It was built by Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler, in Germany, the first gasoline-powered and meter-equipped taxicab on earth. In today's time, taxicabs come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and are a vital link between destinations in most modern cities. Leave alone on the roads, there came a time when flying cars were projected in various time-travel themed movies. Read our Around the World series on Taxis Around the World to know more.
Did you know that the only city where finding a taxi is not such an easy task is Paris, France. New York is known to have more than 13,000 cabs and they are green and yellow in color. Taxis came to life in the 20th century when the iconic black cab became London's standard taxi.
While, taxis vary in every country, there is a huge variation in how a cab should be stopped. For instance in Russia, if one sticks his/her hand out on a busy road, any car can mysteriously turn into a taxi. Private cars that double up as taxis are sometimes called ‘gypsy cabs’, which in fact outnumber the official ones. Taxicabs can be stopped by waving them by the street or picking up one from a taxi stand in Japan, a country with more than 250,000 cabs.
In today's busy lives, safety has become a major concern, cabs or the famously called 'radio taxis' have come as a sigh of relief for all, across the world.
Check out the Texas map for further details.
The major cities of South Korea are decked up for the upcoming Asian Games, scheduled to take place from 19 September – 4 October 2014. The games will be held in the Incheon city of South Korea. You can read about the city on our Incheon City Map page.
Let's know more about South Korea and what all the country has to offer to its tourists. Maps of World brings to you the Country profile of South Korea, which contains all about the country, from the best cities, to best cuisines, the best tourist spots, to the best museums, etc. to be visited while in the city. We have created a Top Ten List of things in South Korea, to pick and choose from. Find the country, on the World Map of Location of South Korea. You can increase your knowledge about the country's Geography, climate and its economy, along with the wildlife, and also the modes of transportation.
The Road to Hana, Hawaii
The Road to Hana is indeed a beautiful route which ought to be on the must-go road trip list of every person who loves nature and open spaces. With snake-like twists and turns, the Highway 36, known as the Hana Highway is a famous landmark in Hawaii. The scenic road to Hana is one of the top tourist attractions on the Hawaiian Island of Maui.
Yes, we are talking about the road that leads to the town Hana, not the town. The highway has a lot more to offer than just a road. It has panoramic views of seascapes, refreshing water pools, lush rainforests, and botanical gardens on the way. Read our Travel Blog, Road to Hana, Hawaii to plan what to do on your way to the town, along with Travel Tips. En route to Hana, there are mile markers at frequent intervals. Each marker has something interesting associated with it, such as the Twin Falls stop at the 2nd mile marker, or the picnic spot at the 12th marker, or the best of all views, the 80 ft high Wailua Falls at the 45th mile marker.
Check out the New Hawaii Map to get more details about state and updates.
This day 29 May, holds great importance in the historic calender. This is the day when the highest peak in the world, Mt. Everest, was conquered in 1953, for the first time in history by two brave men, Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Read in detail about their expedition on our On This Day in History section.
Freezing temperatures, deep crevasses and a high altitude, had kept mountain climbers away from the peak, till this day. The journey which was kick-started by the duo, has been kept in continuation by many more climbers, while some succeeded and some didn't. The journey still goes on...
Surely, after reading about the highest peak in the world, you would be eager to know which other peaks fall in a similar category from other parts of the world. For your delight, MapsofWorld has a list of the World's Major Mountain Peaks on a Map, along with further details about the peaks. Other peaks from Asia itself follow the lead of the Everest in terms of their heights. Mt. Everest, K2, Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Dhaulagiri, Nanga Parbat, and Annapurna together rule the Top Seven highest peaks in the world. Mt. Everest stands proud at a height of 8,848 meters (29,029 feet).
The Alluring Louvre Museum
One of the most famous landmarks of Paris, France, the Louvre Museum is among some of the largest historic museums in the world. Spread across an area of 60,600 sq.m., the museum is estimated to have around 35,000 objects dating back to the prehistoric times upto the 21st century, on exhibit.
The museum has works of art from all over Europe and priceless collections of Assyrian, Greek, Etruscan, Coptic and Islamic art and antiquities on display. The star attraction of the museum is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Locate the museum in our Location Map of Louvre Museum.
Check out the updated Physical Maps of Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Malta on the New Maps and Information page.
Let's find out about the hideouts of the world's biggest money-holders. MapsofWorld brings to you the list of Top Ten Cities with the Most Billionaires, which are home to some of the richest people in the world. The highest ranking in the list of Billionaires has been received by Moscow, Russia, as it maintained its place as the 'billionaire capital' of the world. The New York city follows the lead and was ranked second with the count of 59 billionaires.
London and Hong Kong, stand third and fourth with 41 and 40 billionaires, respectively. Lakshmi Mittal of Indian origin, is the richest among the billionaires who live in London, UK. Mumbai, India; and Sao Paulo, Brazil; have a tie as both have 21 billionaires in total. Mumbai is home to the famous billionaire, business tycoon, Mukesh Ambani of the Ambani group. Taipei, China; Los Angeles, US; and Beijing, China; also have the same number of billionaires and stand intact at the eighth, ninth and tenth positions, respectively.
All About USSR – See Map
Did you know USSR or better known as the Soviet Union was world’s largest country by area? With the longest boundary and coastlines, the USSR was known for its unity in diversity. It was a union of Soviet Socialist republics including, the present countries of Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, and Ukraine, till 1922. You can find all the countries on the USSR Map, which shows the location of the former republics of the Soviet Union along with neatly drawn republic and international boundaries.
Fire at South Korean hospital, 21 dead
According to media reports, around 21 patients were killed and seven were injured, in a massive fire in a sanatorium in southwestern South Korea, early 28 May 2014. A nurse died of burn injuries in a struggle to stop the fire. However, the fire was reported to have been controlled within half and hour. Authorities said that the patient deaths might have been due to suffocation due to the toxic smoke in the building. See Map to find the location of the accident site.
Do check out the new page on Huacachina, Peru, on the New Maps and Information page, along with updated Road maps of Senegal, Surinam, Turkmenistan, Gambia, and Ukraine.
From beaches to deserts, from trekking to diving, from a range of species of plants and animals, and a wide variety of flora and fauna, the islands of Madagascar have it all. We all have seen a glimpse of the beauty of Madagascar in the animated movie-series by the same name.
Madagascar is an island in the Indian Ocean, off the southeastern coast of Africa. Check the Madagascar Map to know more about the country. Well known for its natural attractions, such as national parks, coral reefs and wildlife reserves, it also houses some of the most beautiful beaches around its 5,000 km of coastline, and 250 islands. The Tsingy de Bamaraha, a nature reserve, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the major tourist spots of the country. Isalo National Park, Andringitra National Park, and Masaola National Park are other famous national parks.
Want to check out Lemurs? You must visit the Tsingy de Ankarana. Antananarivo, Mahajanga, Morondava, Nosy boraha, Canal des pangalanes, Antsirabe, Toamasina, Perinet, Taolanaro, Isalo, and Anakao are among the various sightseeing destinations of Madagascar. Madagascar attracts thousands of tourists every year from different corners of the world. Read the Madagascar Travel Guide on our Travel Blog for detailed information.
Check out Restaurants in California!
A wide variety of interesting restaurants await to tingle your taste buds in California. Follow our Blog's list of Best Restaurants in California, USA, to pick and choose on the basis of cuisine, ambience or a first-hand experience from the eateries.
From the long list of restaurants and cafes, The Kabul Palace, The West End Tap & Kitchen, I Love Sushi, Grub Shack, Oscar's Mexican Seafood, are among a few. Each restaurant has a unique specialty to it, which attracts people. You can read the reviews of each of the restaurant listed in the blog, to plan and visit a place of your choice.
Do go through our page on Iranian Fereni Recipe in the Travel section, and learn the famous recipe of a traditional sweet dish from Iran.
You can view the updated maps of Belo Horizonte, Haiti, Lesotho, Uzbekistan, Andorra, Chad, and the Political Map of Guam on the New Maps and Information page, along with other new pages and new maps.
A group of about 115 islands, lying 1,600 km off the East African coast, the Seychelles is a beauty in itself. It's clear turquoise waters and beautiful sandy beaches add to it's exclusivity. Besides being a natural beauty, Seychelles is a much-preferred place for birdwatchers. Seychelles enjoys a tropical climate all throughout the year. It is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean and Mahé is the principal island among the group of islands. It is 142 sq km in area, along with the islands of Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette.
Our Seychelles Travel Guide has it all about the islands, to plan a vacation. Do check out beforehand details about the Visa required to enter the islands. Plan your trip by booking an accommodation beforehand, along with the places you plan to visit. Since October to March is a peak period for tourists, finding rooms can be difficult, hence it is highly advised to make prior bookings. You never know you might find yourself a hotel next to the beach.
Mudslide hits Collbran, Colorado - Se Map
A massive mudslide hit the Mesa County in Collbran, Colorado, USA on 26 May 2014. According to media reports, three people are missing, while no reports of other damage has been reported as yet. It is estimated to have been a 4 miles long mudslide, 2 miles wide and about 250 feet deep.
The authorities have termed the situation as 'unstable' and stated that the slide must be a result of the heavy rainfall that occured in the region. The three people reportedly went missing in the slide area, near Collbran's Salt Creek road and Vega Reservoir. Locate on the Colorado Map the site of the mudslide.
Twin Independence Celebrations!
Also known as the Day of First Republic, the Georgian Independence Day is celebrated on 26 May, which is a national holiday. The day commemorates the date in 1918 when the country declared its independence from Soviet Russia, after the dissolution of the USSR. Guyana Independence Day is a public holiday in Guyana, and is celebrated on 26 May every year. May 26 was the day when the country attained its independence in 1966, as the British Dominion over Guyana came to an end.
Various County Maps of Hungary have been updated and can be found on the New Maps and Information page. Besides Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro maps have also been updated. Our Travel blog has added information on the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai.
Planning a romantic getaway or a honeymoon destination? France is the perfect place for lovers. Locate on the Map of France Honeymoon Destinations places you must-visit, along with a list of some of the must-visit places and the nearby hotels in the cities. The exotic tourist spots in the cities of Alsace and Nice offer some interesting packages for couples.
When in France, you must visit three cities – Lyon, Marseille and definitely Paris. The country's beautiful landscapes and traditional grandeur are sure to mesmerise you. You can't miss the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Chamonix Mont Blanc in Chamomix, and the Rue d'Antibes in Cannes.
Best Places to visit in June
Our Travel Blog is here with another list of must-visit interesting destinations. Read on to know the Best Places to Visit in June. Its mid of the year 2014, and everyone deserves a break from their daily routines. Spain is one of the countries which have entertainment and fun in abundance. From the El Colacho Festiva (aka baby jumping festival), or the Sonar Festival for music lovers, to the Batalla dos Vinos (Battle of the Wines), the country is pure fun.
The 2014 Football World Cup, scheduled to be held in Brazil also calls out to tourists, for some play and some fun alongside. England, Peru and Italy are no far behind too. Supported by a favourable weather and some interesting festivals in these countries, will make all these destinations as enjoyable as the other one.
“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” This famous quote by Benjamin Franklin must be the exact thought in every wine lovers mind. Our Around the World series this week, is a complete round-up on wines and vineyards across the world, the Wines & Vineyards around the World.
Wine has become an important part of fine dining in the modern world. Wines have gained popularity around the world.
France, Italy, Spain, US, and China world's may be major producers of wine, but Europe and the Middle East are still considered as the traditional wine growing areas. Bordeaux and Burgundy, are two important wine producing regions of France, Tuscany in Italy produces some of the best Old World wine. The major grapes varieties in Italy include, Sangiovese and Trebbiano varieties. Chianti is a zone in central Tuscany and the largest classified wine region in Tuscany, that produces 8 million cases per year.
Spain is an Old World wine country with the largest vineyard acreage in the world. Rioja and Priorat are Spain's most important wine regions, along with Barcelona. Cava is one of the world's most popular sparkling wines (after Champagne), which is made near Barcelona.
The USA is home to some of the best New World Wines, along with Argentina. Even Australia is one of the major wine producing countries. It is the fourth largest wine producer in the world.
South Africa, Chile and Portugal have also come up as important wine producing nations in the world.
Also, visit the New Maps and Information page for new Maps of Montenegro and Latvia, and new pages of Physical Maps of Lesotho and Libya.