IRAQ

Threat of fundamentalism looms

This month was supposed mark Iraq's first steps toward a new government. But it's hard to tout political gains when ISIS militants keep barreling across the country, snatching entire cities and threatening to take over Baghdad.

ISIS now controls land on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border -- opening the floodgates for weapons and fighters between the two countries.

On Wednesday, Iraqi security forces had to withdraw from central Tikrit after fierce fighting with militants believed to be ISIS members. At least 52 Iraqi security forces were killed.

Now, an unlikely pair of countries are coming to assist the embattled government -- the United States and Iran.

While U.S. advisers are on the ground assisting security forces, Iraq is increasingly relying on Iranian-backed Shiite militias to stave off radical Sunni ISIS militants -- especially around the capital.

Why we should care:

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said the crisis in Iraq now involves throngs of foreigners -- possibly including Americans.

"One of the problems you've got now is a caliphate that includes part of Syria, part of Iraq, and you've got literally thousands of jihadist wannabes flooding into that part of the world from Europe -- some of them probably from the United States -- who want to participate in that conflict," Cheney told CNN's Jake Tapper.

"It's a threat to us, to the United States, not just to that part of the world."

LIBYA

A free-for-all

Nearly three years after Libyan rebels overthrew a longtime dictator, the country is no closer to lasting stability.

The civil war that culminated in Moammar Gadhafi's 2011 death has given way to warring militias fighting over Tripoli's international airport.

At least 90% of the planes there have been damaged, and it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to repair them, the government said.

Maintenance buildings are destroyed. So are fuel tanks and trucks. Even the control tower has been hit.

The chaos in the capital is so dire now that officials are considering asking for international troops -- even though the government is virtually powerless and has very little influence on what's happening on the ground.

Not only is government is weak, but militias actually outnumber and outgun its security forces.

Why we should care: