The papers: The 'battle for Baghdad' and Dame Angelina Jolie

Foreign stories rarely claim the front pages of Britain's press, but the rapid advance of the ISIS jihadist group in Iraq - and how that that advance might be reversed - does.

The Independent and the Guardian both report on Iran's involvement in efforts to prevent the collapse of the Iraqi state.

Image copyright AP
Image caption ISIS fighters - reckoned to number around 7,000 have met little resistance from Iraq's million-strong army

The Independent says the Iranian revolutionary guards are already in Baghdad to coalesce a force from the most reliable elements in the Iraqi army, with the keenest of the Shia militias - religious sworn enemies of the vehemently Sunni Muslim ISIS fighters.

The paper explains: "The Iranians are horrified by the sudden military collapse of their ally and the prospect of a viscerally anti-Shia quasi-independent Sunni state emerging in northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria."

The Guardian says the US is mulling air strikes to support the Iraqi government.

It says drone attacks are being considered, but the preference would likely be for manned planes with the aim of striking "at the head" of ISIS.

American military analyst Charles Harmer told the paper: "With ISIS in the open, its positions are easier to strike... if the US is going to act, sooner is better, unless you want to get involved in urban conflict."

Britain's potential role in the conflict makes the Daily Telegraph's front page.

Although Foreign Secretary William Hague has ruled out British "boots on the ground", the paper says, the UK could send anti-terrorism advisers from the SAS and intelligence agencies.

The Times reports that 90,000 Iraqi soldiers have deserted "despite billions of dollars of American training and weaponry".

The paper gives some indication why ISIS has made such rapid advances: a hatred of Iraq's "nakedly sectarian" prime minister Nouri al-Maliki in Sunni areas, and the support of Saddam Hussein's former loyalists.

It documents the life of ISIS's former second in command, Haji Bakr, a former colonel in Saddam's Army with a liking for Scotch whisky, who turned jihadist on his release from American military detention.

Bakr died in the Syrian conflict, but the paper says there were plenty of other Iraqis holding up pictures of Saddam when Isis forces drove into their areas.

The Daily Mail reports on life in the ISIS-occupied city of Mosul, where people have been summarily executed in their own homes and Islamists have issued proclamations ordering everyone to pray five times a day, and insisting women must stay indoors "unless there is an emergency".

In analysis for the Daily Mirror, Middle East expert Prof Peter Neumann says: "ISIS are drunk with success and making big announcements.

"The reality is there is no way they can take Baghdad. Even if they got in they wouldn't hold it for more than 24 hours."

But he cautions "there is no silver bullet" for dealing with their threat.

In a comment piece in the Financial Times, David Gardner agrees, arguing that "ISIS may be over-reaching - and uniting otherwise opposed regional actors against it."


The great, the good and the less heralded from the Queen's Birthday Honours list find themselves celebrated in Saturday's press.

The Daily Mirror focuses on the MBE given to cancer fundraiser Stephen Sutton just days before his death, aged 19.

The paper says that when Stephen was told of the accolade he gave his trademark thumbs up gesture and said "awesome".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Angelina Jolie

While all the the papers discuss the "big names" on the honours list, such as Daniel Day-Lewis and Angelina Jolie, others less familiar are also noted.

The Daily Express has a picture of 99-year-old Ethel Dobbins, a former nurse, awarded the British Empire Medal for her work as secretary of the Hard of Hearing Club and Blackpool Jubilee Stroke Club.

The Daily Telegraph has a box on Hunter Davies, the journalist turned Beatles biographer. Mr Davies jokes that his wife "threatened to divorce him" for accepting an OBE.

The Guardian tells of Jessica Huie, who went from being a pregnant 17-year-old drop out living in a hostel, to founding the multicultural greeting cards company ColourBlind Cards.

Ms Huie, 34, who has been made an MBE, said the award was significant not for where she is today "but the distance I have travelled".

The Daily Mail seems less than enamoured with the decision to award actress Angelina Jolie an honorary damehood to recognise her work as a UN special envoy dedicated to stamping out the use of rape as a weapon of war.

Its headline says "after hobnobbing, starstruck Hague hands the queen of Tinseltown a gong".

It quotes Labour MP Paul Flynn who said: "Angelina Jolie is doing creditable work but it is ridiculous to honour people who are already over-endowed with privileges and wealth."

It's a point of view, the Mail has seemingly some sympathy for: Its comment section criticises the foreign secretary for "spending a fourth consecutive day posing for photographs alongside Hollywood star Angelina Jolie" whilst Iraq burns.

Amanda Platell, writing in the paper, is more blunt.

"If you want to fawn over celebs, Mr Hague, just buy Hello!" is her verdict.

'Unforced errors'

Papers - as a general rule - love stories about other papers, and Ed Miliband's apology to Merseysiders offended by his posing with a copy of The Sun is much discussed.

Valentine Low in the Times says "the very moment that the first images appeared of Ed Miliband posing with a copy of the Sun, it was obvious that disaster lay just around the corner.

Image copyright The Sun

"It was the look on Mr Miliband's face: a fixed nervous grin that suggested he was sure he was making a huge mistake, but had not quite discovered what it was."

Low notes Mr Miliband's explanation that he was posing to show his support for the England team, who were celebrated on the front page of the special edition of the Sun, has failed to satisfy many.

He adds: "It is entirely possible that Mr Miliband, on taking further advice, may decide that this apology made him look so ridiculous that it merits an apology of its own."

The Independent says that senior Labour Party figures have attacked their leader for taking part in the "stunt".

The paper says former shadow cabinet minister Tom Watson wrote of the affair: "Ed finds himself in an unnecessary embarrassing situation again.

"As any football fan will tell you, too many unforced errors ends in defeat."

Unsurprisingly, Mr Miliband's apology has not gone down well with the Sun either.

The paper says the Labour leader "grovelled when MPs moan" about their picture, which they said was "an unashamed positive celebration of Englishness".

Its leader column indignantly asks "What exactly is there to apologise for about having your picture taken holding our special England issue?"

Property jamboree

Like an incoming storm, we know that an interest rates rise is impending, thanks to Bank of England governor Mark Carney's recent warning.

The upshot, the Financial Times reports, is that "mortgage brokers are urging homebuyers to lock in fixed-rate deals quickly".

One broker told the paper: "We'll see most lenders increase the costs of their fixed-rate mortgages. I'd certainly expect some movement over the next few weeks."

In its leader column, the FT praises the way that Mr Carney announced that he was considering raising rates "earlier than had been expected".

"By raising the possibility of a future policy tightening, he avoided the risk of administering a large and sudden shock to the economy further down the track".

Dr Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce is less admiring in the Daily Express.

He tells the paper: "The case for acting more swiftly has not yet been made.

"Companies need to be confident that they will be working in a low interest rate environment, facing only gradual rather than sudden change."

Economist Matthew Whittaker also urged caution in the paper.

He said hundreds of thousands of Britons already had "unaffordable" mortgage repayments and "there's no sign yet of a surge in wages which could help to deal with higher repayments."

Still on the subject of housing, the Daily Mail reports on one hitherto unreported factor in the explosion in UK house prices - investment sales to China.

David Jones reports from Hong Kong on a "glitzy property jamboree" in Hong Kong where "English estate agents vied like barrow-boys to sell flats and houses to cash-rich Chinese speculators who were using our booming housing market like some alternative stock exchange."

Jones says most of the investors - largely "middle-class Chinese who had saved prodigiously" intended coming to Britain and few had any idea of the towns and suburbs where their investments were based.

They were nonetheless "snapping up properties like squares on a Monopoly board."


You may find it hard to escape the fact today, that a certain football match is being played in Manaus, Brazil, later.

But leaving aside discussions of England's tactics for their inaugural World Cup game, or discussions of the likely result, there are other gems in Saturday's newspapers.

No-one does overkill like the Sun and it looks ahead to England versus Italy across five pages (and I'm not including the sport section).

Things might augur well for the English tonight if the mystic predictions "Doug the Pug" (a result selecting dog) or "Porker the Pig" (a porcine predictor) prevail.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Porker the Pig mulls his World Cup selections (possibly)

Both animal pundits defied the bookies and went for a Dutch win on Friday against Spain, and both plump for England tonight.

On the other hand, England are also selected by "Sea Eagle Inowashi" (a sporting raptor) and William Hill (a retired builder, not the company) and both of these Sun pundits have had a 0% success rate so far.

A more feet-on-the-ground assessment might be made by Mark Williams.

The Daily Express reports that the 48-year-old head teacher resigned his job at a Bolton primary school so that he could fly to Brazil and support England.

Diehard fan Mr Williams said: "I offered my resignation to the governors so I could fulfil the trip of a lifetime."

The Daily Telegraph reports that many Manaus natives have adopted England as their "second team" despite having a genuine reason for holding a grudge.

The paper explains that the city's mid-Victorian prosperity collapsed almost overnight after Englishman Henry Wickham smuggled Brazilian rubber tree seeds out of the Amazon basin and began rival rubber plantations in Malaysia.

"Time is a great healer, but so is football, the game the British gave to Brazil and the rest of the world," the paper explains.

Making people click

Star: Manaus pitch painted green

Mail: Ross Barkley's Aristotle tattoo

Mirror: Old Apple earphones 'don't work'

Guardian: Spain humiliated by Holland

Express: Doomsday moon appears