Iraq starts operation to drive Islamic State from Anbar
Iraqi government forces have formally launched an operation to drive Islamic State (IS) out of Anbar province. The operation would see troops and militiamen move southwards from Salahuddin province and seek to cut off IS militants in Ramadi.
Iranian Court Begins Espionage Trial Of ‘Washington Post’ Reporter
Bill Campbell/ NPR
More than 10 months after Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was detained on vaguely defined espionage charges, his trial began Tuesday in a closed court in Tehran. Rezaian is a citizen of both Iran and the U.S.
With ISIS in Cross Hairs, U.S. Holds Back to Protect Civilians
Eric Schmitt/ The New York Times
Many Iraqi commanders and some American officers say that exercising caution with airstrikes has harmed the coalition’s larger effort to destroy the Islamic State.
American Competitiveness & Economic Diplomacy
China’s yuan no longer undervalued, says IMF
China’s currency “is no longer undervalued”, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Substantial “appreciation over the past year has brought the exchange rate to a level that is no longer undervalued”, it says. The IMF says China should focus on creating full exchange rate flexibility so that the value of the yuan adjusts as the country grows.
Jury Is Still Out on European Central Bank’s Stimulus Program
Jack Ewing/ The New York Times
By some measures, the European Central Bank is confounding the naysayers. When the eurozone’s central bank started its stimulus program in March, critics warned that its planned monthly infusions of 60 billion freshly minted euros would not be enough to jolt the Continent’s economy back to life. But growth is picking up.
National Security & Strategy
China to Expand Naval Operations Amid Growing Tensions With U.S.
Chun Han Wong/ The Wall Street Journal
China outlined plans to shift its armed forces’ focus toward maritime warfare and accused foreign countries of “meddling” in the South China Sea, setting the stage for a tense confrontation between senior U.S. and Chinese defense officials at a security conference this weekend.
How climate change threatens national security
Michael Holtz/ The Christian Science Monitor
From shrinking coastlines to mass animal extinctions, the potential effects of climate change have been well documented. But a growing body of research points to a parallel threat: As global temperatures rise, so too does the risk of human conflict.
‘IS group is not most important threat to Iraq’
“The fundamental issues in Iraq are not the threat of Daesh (the Islamic State group). The most important threat to Iraq is the absence of political reconciliation,” the former US ambassador told FRANCE 24. “There is clearly a drift towards division in Iraq. People speak of a Jihadistan in the areas where Daesh is present, they talk about Kurdistan and they talk about a Shiistan. Those are not yet facts but they could become facts if this course of events is not shifted. So now is the time.”
Taliban and Afghan Peace Officials Have Secret Talks in China
Edward Wong and Mujib Mashal/ The New York Times
A peace envoy from Afghanistan met in western China last week with former Taliban officials with close ties to Pakistan’s intelligence agency, in an attempt to keep open the possibility of formal Afghan peace talks, officials said Monday.
World has no choice but to decarbonise – UN climate chief
Megan Rowling/ Reuters
Responding to climate change in the next 15 years is the world’s “mega development project”, given the need to invest trillions of dollars in infrastructure, creating jobs and economic stability, the United Nations’ top climate change official said on Tuesday.
Goldman Sachs Is Our Best Bet Against Climate Change
Bryan Birsic/ Tech Crunch
Although it may not be the obvious hero, Goldman Sachs and its cohorts could be responsible for transitioning the renewables sector from a fragmented and esoteric industry to one of mainstream dominance.
China coal use falls: CO2 reduction this year could equal UK total emissions over same period
Lauri Myllyvirta/ Energy Desk
Official data from China shows coal use continuing to fall precipitously – bringing carbon dioxide emissions down with it. The data – which comes months before crucial climate talks in Paris – means China has cut emissions during the first four months of the year by roughly the same amount as the total carbon emissions of the United Kingdom over the same period.
Nigeria’s fuel crisis: ‘Deal reached with government’
Nigeria’s fuel wholesalers say they have reached a deal with the government that should soon see the end of the crippling fuel crisis.
China warned over ‘insane’ plans for new nuclear power plants
Emma Graham-Harrison/ The Guardian
Proposals to build plants inland, as China ends a moratorium on new generators imposed after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, are particularly risky, the physicist He Zuoxiu said, because if there was an accident it could contaminate rivers that hundreds of millions of people rely on for water and taint groundwater supplies to vast swathes of important farmlands.
French diplomat doesn’t see Iran nuke deal by end of June
Bradley Klapper/ The Washington Post via AP
France’s ambassador in Washington says world powers and Iran will probably miss an end-of-June deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement.
On Our Flashpoint Blog
The Prospects of Reform in Sudan
John Bugnacki / Daniel Wagner
In spite of declarations to pursue reform following South Sudan’s secession from Sudan in 2011, the political landscape in Sudan has remained bleak, with the government of Omar al-Bashir continuing to repress the country’s marginalized populations. In response, there have been increasing levels of armed conflict and protest activity against the regime, and both international and domestic organizations are calling for Bashir to be brought to justice for his crimes against the Sudanese people.
Senator Gary Hart on What’s Wrong with Foreign Policy in a Time Magazine
In an online article out today and in this week’s TIME Magazine issue, foreign affairs columnist Ian Bremmer looked at “the drift that has afflicted U.S. foreign policy, and the desperate need for a new direction,” just as he does in his new book Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World..
Briefing Note- Turkey as a Rising Donor State
Information of the growth of Turkey’s increasing role as a donor state in terms of refugee assistance and aid.
U.S. – Cuban Relations on the Edge of Formalization
Cuban and American officials are scheduled to meet in Washington today for the fifth, and hopefully final, round of talks ahead of restoring full diplomatic relations between the two countries. This marks the closest to completing the process since U.S-Cuba relations ceased in January 1961 under President Eisenhower.
ASP Recently Published
Critical Issues Facing Russia and the Former Soviet Union: Governance and Corruption
American Security Project
When it comes to Russia and the other post-Soviet states, corruption is the subject of constant academic, policy, and popular debate. According to many, persistent corruption is the major factor undermining post-Soviet states from achieving broad-based political, economic, and social development along liberal-democratic lines.
Environmental Threats to Louisiana’s Future: Climate Change
American Security Project
As one of the centers of energy production, transit, and storage, Louisiana is a hub for the whole country. This ensures that any problems in Louisiana are transferred throughout the country by energy price volatility and uncertainty.