Center for Strategic Communication

International News Coverage


Why Barack Obama is writing letters to Iran’s Supreme Leader
David Blair / The Telegraph

Analysis: The real aim of the correspondence is to reassure Iran’s leader that “regime change” is not America’s goal

Iran stalls probe into nuclear weapons research, U.N. report says

Iran is failing to address suspicions it may have worked on designing an atomic bomb, according to the latest report by a U.N. watchdog, potentially complicating efforts by world powers to reach a deal with Tehran on its nuclear program.

U.S. believes airstrike killed top al Qaeda bomb maker
CBS News

American airstrikes targeting the Khorasan terror group in Syria killed a master bomb maker, according to U.S. officials. French-born David Drugeon was adept at making bombs that could go undetected through airport screening. Bob Orr reports from Washington.

How the U.S. and five ‘terrorist groups’ are on the same side in war against the Islamic State
Ishaan Tharoor / The Washingotn Post

Among the many complexities raised by the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq and Syria are the winding, shifting battle lines of the conflict, which has pitted a host of governments and ethnic and sectarian factions against each other. The jihadists of the Islamic State control a vast swath of territory in both countries and have set about targeting ethnic minorities, massacring uncooperative Sunni tribesmen and beheading Western hostages.

Peshmergas blunt, don’t break, Islamic State siege of Syria’s Kobani

Iraqi Kurdish forces have blunted but not broken the siege of the Syrian border town of Kobani, a week after arriving to great fanfare with heavy weapons and fighters in a bid to save it from Islamic State.

Iraq’s top cleric says graft in army helped Islamic State

Iraq’s most influential Shi’ite cleric said on Friday that corruption in the armed forces had enabled Islamic State to seize much of northern Iraq, criticism that will pressure the government to enact reforms in the face of an insurgency.

Would-be jihadis using cruise ships to get to Syria and Iraq, say police chiefs
The Guardian

Would-be jihadi fighters are booking tickets on cruise ships to join extremists in battle zones in Syria and Iraq in an attempt to bypass efforts to stop them in neighbouring Turkey, Interpol officials have said.

Iraq Plagued by Budget Crisis Amid Menace of Islamic State
Matt Bradley / The Wall Street Journal

Plummeting Oil Revenues, Hand-to-Mouth State Budget Hobble Fight Against Insurgents

Dempsey Says People of Iraq, Syria Will Defeat ISIL
Lisa Ferdinando / DoD News

The people of Iraq and Syria will reject and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

Centcom Chief Notes ‘Significant’ Progress in ISIL Fight
Nick Simeone / DoD News

Three months after the United States began conducting airstrikes against terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the top U.S. military commander for the Middle East today described the progress made toward degrading and destroying the group as “significant.”

US Targets Khorasan Group with Airstrikes
Carla Babb / VOA News

The American general leading the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq says U.S. forces have carried out more strikes against a cell of al-Qaida militants known as the Khorasan group. The Pentagon has said the organization, which is also linked to another al-Qaida-affiliated group, the Nusra Front, was plotting attacks against Europe and the United States.

Islamic State far greater threat than Al Qaeda and Taliban: terrorist financing expert
ABC News Australia

An expert on terrorist financing has said Islamic State (IS) poses a far greater threat than Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and that Australia’s foreign fighters law will not work.

U.S. weighs sanctions on Libyan factions

The United States is considering imposing sanctions on Libya’s combative factions to try to prevent a proxy conflict fueled by regional powers from erupting into full-blown civil war and force militant leaders to negotiate, U.S. officials said.

Obama wants $3.2 bln for U.S. air war on ISIS

President Barack Obama will ask lawmakers Friday for an additional $3.2 billion to pay for the war against the Islamic State group of Iraq and Syria, including funds to train and arm Baghdad government forces, officials said Thursday.

Europe, FSU

Ukraine accuses Russia of sending 32 tanks into rebel-held territory
The Telegraph

Fighting continues in Donbas region as Moscow clarifies “respect” for separatist election results.

NATO Alliance Continues 24/7 Baltic Air Policing Rotation

Since this September, Portugal has been the Baltic Air Policing (BAP) lead nation with four F-16’s at Šiauliai airbase, Lithuania. The Royal Canadian Air Force have four CF-188 there as well to further augment the NATO mission. In addition, Germany and the Netherlands have augmented the mission flying Eurofighters out of Ämari, Estonia, and F-16’s out of Malbork, Poland, respectively.

School Shelling Deaths in Ukraine Hurt Peace Hopes
ABC News

The shelling of a high school in Ukraine’s rebel stronghold of Donetsk has chilled even the battle-hardened in this weary nation. The killing of two teenagers as they were playing soccer after lunch Wednesday is a stark reminder that the cease-fire agreed upon in September has only really ever existed on paper. Four other students were wounded, according to Dr. Vladimir Voropayev, chief of the children’s trauma unit at the regional hospital in Donetsk.

A pro-Western victory? Looking at parliamentary elections in Ukraine
The Hill

Ukrainian voters went to the polls on Oct. 26, 2014, in a snap election to replace the parliament elected two years before under President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country in February 2014 during the Euromaidan demonstrations.

Gazprom asks Ukraine to prepay for November gas supplies

Gazprom has sent Ukraine a bill to prepay for two billion cubic metres of November gas supplies at a price of $378 per 1,000 cubic metres, the company’s press service told Reuters on Friday.

Russian Ruble Falls To Record Lows
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Russian ruble fell to new lows against the dollar and the euro early on November 7. The ruble’s rate hit 48 per dollar and 59.4 per euro at the opening of trading on the Moscow Exchange. The new lows come on the heels of record levels hit at the exchange closing on November 6.

Putin: strengthening ties with China top priority for Russia

In an interview with the leading Chinese media outlets Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Asia-Pacific Region is becoming the center of global economic and political activity.

What is the best way for the U.S. to counter Russia’s natural gas threats?

After last week’s gas agreement between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union — which made clear Russia’s energy dominance over Europe — some have asked whether the U.S. could use its gas reserves as a “geopolitical weapon” to “stand up to Russian aggression,” as U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a statement earlier this year.

Russia Reserves Decline $10.5 Billion, Most Since May

Russia’s international reserves, which have shrunk by a fifth since last year’s peak, are in the spotlight after the central bank shifted its currency intervention policy as the ruble plunged to a record.

Putin blames politics for falling energy prices

President Vladimir Putin has suggested that the fall in global oil prices that is hurting Russia’s economy was caused in part by political manipulation.

Russian Missile Cruiser To Hold Fire Drills In South China Sea Ahead Of Putin’s Visit To Beijing
Kukil Bora / International Business Times

The Russian missile cruiser Moscow, also known as Moskva, will hold drills on air defense and the use of “rocket, artillery and torpedo weapons” in a rare visit to the South China Sea, the Russian defense ministry announced Wednesday in a statement. The training exercises will also include practicing damage control tasks, according to the statement.

Russia’s Lavrov to hold talks with Kerry in China: agencies

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Beijing on Saturday before an Asia-Pacific summit starts, Russian news agencies said on Friday.

In Spain’s Catalonia, dialogue may follow symbolic independence vote

Catalans are expected to turn out in droves on Sunday to make their strongest show of force to date for breaking away from the rest of Spain in a symbolic independence referendum.

EU Reaches Deal on Budget Bills For U.K. and Netherlands
The Wall Street Journal

Chancellor George Osborne Describes Compromise as “Real Result” for Britain

Asia Pacific

China’s Xi and Japan’s Abe to hold long-awaited meeting at Apec
Anna Fifield and William Wan / The Wall Street Journal

The leaders of Japan and China will hold their first official meeting next week, almost two years since each took office, after striking a deal on Friday to build “strategic, mutually beneficial relations.”

China and Japan Reach Accord on Disputed Islands: Let’s Agree to Disagree
Jane Perlez / The New York Times

Signaling a potential thaw in their long-frozen relations, China and Japan announced Friday that they had effectively agreed to disagree over the sovereignty of disputed islands in the East China Sea and to gradually resume diplomatic and security discussions. The agreement could clear the way for the leaders of the two Asian powers to hold a breakthrough meeting next week at a regional conference here.

Obama Heading to China Seeking Breakthrough on Climate
The Wall Street Journal

Despite Commitment, Both Face Entrenched Domestic Political Opposition to Curbing Fossil Fuels.

China to Punish Those Responsible for Pollution Levels in Beijing
The New York Times

With Asia-Pacific leaders gathering for a summit meeting in Beijing, forecasts that smog would envelop the capital this weekend were bad news not just for China’s leaders, who hoped to present the city in its best light for the occasion, but for officials charged with ensuring clean air.

Regional Politicians Approve Restart of Nuclear Plant in South of Japan
Jonathan Soble / The New York Times

Japan moved closer to reviving part of its moribund nuclear power industry on Friday, as a regional government agreed to restart two reactors at a plant that is among a dozen nationwide waiting to be switched back on following the Fukushima disaster three and a half years ago.

Japan defense review with U.S. may face political delays: report

Japan may miss a year-end deadline to review its military alliance with the United States as domestic political wrangling delays discussions, a leading newspaper said on Friday, although Japan’s defense chief said it was working to complete the process on time.

Americans consider Japan most important Asian country, survey suggests
The Japan Times

Japan is regarded among the U.S. public and American opinion leaders as the most import country in Asia, according to the results of an annual survey released by the Foreign Ministry on Friday.

Japan’s economy: Big bazookas
The Economist

The central bank is right to be bold. Now the prime minister must follow suit.

New North Korea nuclear facility could boost weapons fuel: report

North Korea is operating a new nuclear facility that could double its known capacity to produce uranium-enriched fuel for nuclear weapons, a South Korean news report said on Wednesday.

China’s Changed One-Child Policy Doesn’t Give Baby Boost
The Wall Street Journal

Relaxation of China’s One-Child Policy Had Led to Fewer Baby Applications Than Expected.

India’s economy likely to grow 6.4% next year; may be a hair’s breadth away from China by 2016: OECD
The Economic Times

In yet another endorsement of the new government’s policies aimed at reviving the economy, the OECD has bumped up India’s growth forecast for next year citing a pickup in investment because of the improved political situation that stems from the Narendra Modi-led BJP having come to power with a substantial majority that will enable it to undertake reforms.

India vs. China: The Battle for Global Manufacturing

With its chronic blackouts, crumbling roads, and other infrastructure woes, India should have no appeal for John Ginascol. A vice president at Abbott Laboratories (ABT), Ginascol is responsible for ensuring that the company’s food-products factories run smoothly worldwide. He can’t afford surprises when it comes to electricity, water, and other essentials. “People like me,” he says, “dream of having existing, good, reliable infrastructure.”


Oil price falls? Why you should relax: OPEC head

Those panicked by the recent plunge in oil prices should “sit and relax,” according to the head of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – the group of the world’s biggest oil exporters.

US fracking firms stay in top gear despite oil price slump
The Economic Times

Unfazed by slumping oil prices and battering in the stock market, firms that supply sand and guar gum for shale oil and gas companies are not ready yet to call an end to a four-year boom spurred by hydraulic fracturing technology.

Drillers Cut Expansion Plans as Oil Prices Drop
The Wall Street Journal

New Rigs in Question From Texas to North Dakota; ‘We’re in a Battle with Saudi Arabia’
U.S. Natural Gas Exports Will Fire Up in 2015

On an otherwise barren strip of the Louisiana coast, a crew of more than 4,000 workers has spent the past two years building what will be the largest supercooling facility for natural gas in the U.S. When it’s finished late next year, Cheniere Energy’s (LNG) Sabine Pass liquefaction terminal will begin chilling natural gas to -260F so it can be loaded onto tankers and sold to customers in Europe and Asia. It will be the first facility to export natural gas from the contiguous U.S.

Houston company sets groundbreaking date for LNG export project
Houston Business Journal

Houston-based Freeport LNG Development LP plans to break ground next week on its massive liquefied natural gas export project in southeastern Texas.

Djibouti Plans LNG, Oil Terminals to Develop Regional Trade

Djibouti will start work on liquefied-natural-gas and crude-oil terminals by March as part of a $5 billion plan to develop regional trade ties, Djibouti Ports & Free Zones Authority Chairman Aboubaker Omar Hadi said.

Climate Change

Urgent IPCC climate change warning demands action: Bob McDonald
Bob McDonald / CBC Canada

IPCC report is that doing nothing will cost much more than taking action now.

Climate change supporters suffer losses
The Hill

Despite millions spent to make climate change a wedge issue during the midterms, environmentally friendly candidates didn’t fare well on Election Day.


U.N. Ebola chief voices guarded optimism
CBS News

The U.N.’s Ebola chief said an extraordinary global response over the past month has made him hopeful the outbreak could end in 2015, though he cautioned that the fight to contain the disease is not even a quarter done.

Ebola cases rise sharply in Sierra Leone
Liz Szabo / USA Today

Sierra Leone is reporting an alarming increase in the number of new Ebola cases, with 435 confirmed in the past week.

It’s Over: Texas’ Ebola Outbreak Has Ended
NBC News

The Ebola outbreak in Texas has ended. As of midnight Friday, it was 21 days since anyone got Ebola or was in contact with someone who got Ebola.

Funding cuts hamper health agencies’ ability to prepare for, respond to Ebola
Homeland Security News Wire

Federal and state funds for local health agencies have been cut over the past few years, so when hospitals and municipal health agencies are asked proactively to respond to possible threats of Ebola, many question how they will fund such activities. Since 2008, at least 51,000 state and local public health jobs (roughly 20 percent) have been lost due to cuts in federal funding.

On Our Flashpoint Blog

Optimism or Reality: US-China Cooperation on Shale Gas
Andrew Holland
Chinese investment in unconventional fossil fuels is aimed at China’s goal of restricting coal use and increasing domestic natural gas production. It also presents an opportunity for increasingly difficult Sino-US bilateral relations.

The U.S. – E.U. Partnership: Looking Ahead
Maggie Feldman-Piltch
The EU-US partnership has been integral in successfully addressing many of the most serious threats to peace, stability, and democracy across the globe in the two decades since its formalization.

The Rise of Lithuanian LNG: A Long-term Opportunity for the U.S.
Hidetoshi Azuma
Lithuania officially made its debut in the global LNG market with the arrival of its floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) Independence on Monday, October 27, 2014.

Is an “Arab-style NATO” in the works?
Giancarlo Lima
Arab states, led by Egypt and its Gulf allies, are working on a military alliance to tackle the region’s security concerns.

UN IPCC Climate Change Report Reaffirms Nexus between Climate Change and National Security
AJ Degarmo
This past weekend United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their fifth assessment report covering climate change.

Upcoming Events

ASP Conference – The US – EU Strategic Partnership: Trade, Energy, and Security
November 12 @ 12:30PM – 1:30PM
Location: American Security Project, Suite 750W – 1100 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005
Numerous strategic challenges and opportunities face the United States and European Union in 2015. Join ASP on November 12, 2014 as our high-level panel discusses what options are ahead of the US and the EU.

Orlando Event – Climate Change: Risks for National Security
November 17 @ 8:00AM – 10:30AM
Location: Pegasus Ballroom – Student Union Building – University of Central Florida: 12715 Pegasus Dr., Orlando, FL 32816
Join us for a discussion with senior flag officers as they discuss the steps the US military has taken and future implications for our national security.

Tampa Event – Climate Change: Risks for National Security
November 18 @ 2:00PM – 4:00PM
Location: University of Tampa, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606
Climate change is already a major concern for US military planners. Meanwhile, American politicians continue to ignore the issue of this growing threat. Join ASP at the University of Tampa on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 as we discuss this important issue.

Geography 2050: Mounting an Expedition to the Future
November 19
Location: Low Memorial Library, Columbia University, 2960 Broadway, Manhattan, NY 10027
The one-day inaugural event, to be held at Columbia’s Low Library in Manhattan, offers an opportunity for thought leaders in industry, government, the social sector, and academe to come together to think about collectively exploring the future, and to examine how geography, geographic thinking, and geospatial data and technologies will enable this new age of exploration.

FSC Event – Climate Change: Risks for National Security
November 19 @ 10:30AM – 12:00PM
Location: Florida Southern College, 111 Lake Hollingsworth Dr., Lakeland, FL 33801
Climate change is already a major concern for US military planners. Meanwhile, American politicians continue to ignore the issue of this growing threat. Join ASP at the University of Tampa on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 as we discuss this important issue.

ASP Conference: Electricity Supply: What it Means for Security, Developments and Geopolitics
November 19 @ 12:00PM – 4:30PM
1100 New York Avenue, NW – 7th Floor – West Tower
The nexus of electricity, development, and security is significant, yet its nuances are too often overlooked. The half-day event will bring together development and energy experts, government officials, and policy makers to better establish the important linkages between power, security, and development, share successful implementation strategies and consider how these successes can be replicated in diverse contexts.

ASP Conference – Pakistan: Aid, Trade, and Security
December 9 @ 12:00PM – 2:00PM
Location: TBA
Join ASP and FTI Consulting as we host an event that will discuss current conditions of economic aid, trade and security in Pakistan, and will feature experts of military and development backgrounds.

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