1 Iraq claims Mosul victory (Straits Times) The loss of its two largest cities will not spell a final defeat for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – also known as ISIS and Daesh – according to analysts and US and Middle Eastern officials.
The group has already shifted back to its roots as an insurgent force, but one that now has an international reach and an ideology that continues to motivate attackers around the world. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has claimed victory over ISIS in Mosul after nearly nine months of fighting. A coalition force is also fighting to drive ISIS out of its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.
“These are obviously major blows to ISIS because its state-building project is over, there is no more caliphate, and that will diminish support and recruits,” said senior fellow Hassan Hassan at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington who has co-authored a book on the terror group.
“But ISIS today is an international organisation. Its leadership and its ability to grow back are still there.” ISIS has overshadowed its militant precursors like Al-Qaeda by not just holding territory, but also running cities and their hinterlands for an extended period, winning the group credibility in the militant world and allowing it to build a complex organisation.
So even while its physical hold slips, its surviving cadres – middle managers, weapons technicians, propagandists and other operatives – will invest that experience in the group’s future operations. And even though its hold on crucial urban centres is being shaken, ISIS is in no way homeless yet. In Iraq, the group still controls Tal Afar, Hawija, other towns and much of Anbar province.
2 Rental bargains in Dubai (Manoj Nair in Gulf News) If their current landlords are not negotiating, Dubai’s tenants are better off scouting around among the new homes being delivered in the city for the right deals.
Market sources confirm that while most landlords with older properties seem unwilling to drop rents, those with new properties are more willing to give in to market and tenant sentiments. Many of them would have existing mortgage or instalment pay-offs to consider, and they would rather have a confirmed tenant signed up now than leave the property vacant for weeks or months.
The second-half of the year should see the great tenant churn — where they ditch their current premises and move to new locations — pick up further. It is then up to the tenants to search for — and negotiate — terms that are more favourable to them.
“Many existing tenants have taken this opportunity to renegotiate lease terms”, said John Stevens, Managing Director of Asteco. “This has resulted in an increased churn of tenants. “As with the sales market, there has been an increase in the number and range of incentives available,” the Asteco report says.
“Landlords are increasingly offering enticements such as furnishings [without increment], rentals inclusive of Dewa bills, or rent-free periods of up to two months.” Those rent-free periods can be a big help with residents keen to keep the cost of shifting as low as possible.
3 When one job doesn’t pay the bills (Angelique Arde in Johannesburg Times) Self-employment may be on the decline, but more employed people are setting up sideline businesses to supplement their income, the latest Old Mutual Savings & Investment Monitor shows.
The monitor is a survey of urbanworking South Africans, examining their levels of savings and investment as well as their attitudes to finances. This year’s monitor shows that self-employment has decreased from 12% to 8%.
Priya Naicker, advice manager for Old Mutual Personal Finance, said this was largely due to limited support for entrepreneurs and uncertainty in a tough economic environment.
But “while those who run their own businesses are in the minority, this doesn’t mean to say that there’s no appetite for it”, said Lynette Nicholson, research manager at Old Mutual. “On the contrary, 27% of those who are not self-employed – in other words, people with jobs – say they think about starting their own business all the time or a lot of the time.”
Respondents to the survey said the main barrier to starting their own business was lack of funding, followed by lack of confidence, and uncertainty about the type of business they would like to own. Fear of losing a steady income was holding 14% back.
An additional survey among city dwellers found that 37% have a sideline business or job. Old Mutual calls them “slashers” – referring to the “slash” between their job titles. For example, beautician/baker. This was a global phenomenon, Nicholson said. But in South Africa, it seems to be a trend among people in the middle- to upper-income bands.