John Kerry and Iranian Counterpart to Leave Nuclear Talks
The New York Times
Iran’s chief negotiator in the nuclear talks here is returning to Tehran on Friday afternoon to seek further instructions from his country’s leaders, as negotiators struggle to meet a Monday deadline for an accord.
Islamic State fighters attacked a government complex in the heart of an Iraqi provincial capital on Friday, local officials said, in an apparently coordinated effort to seize full control of the city.
Stopping an Awakening in Iraq before it can start
The Washington Post
A centerpiece of President Obama’s strategy for defeating the Islamic State is mobilizing tribal fighters to join the Iraqi military in retaking Anbar province and others dominated by Sunnis. But new research shows that the jihadists have been working since 2009 to gut the very Sunni tribal leadership on which Obama’s rollback depends — making the U.S. campaign much more difficult.
Tunisians were used to seeing Nidhal Selmi belting around a stadium, proudly sporting his country’s red and white colors as a defender on the national football squad.
Assad Wants ‘Real’ Cooperation To Crush IS
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that “international cooperation” is needed to destroy the Islamic State group, which is the target of a U.S.-led military campaign.
Europe & FSU
Ukraine’s Maidan protests – one year on
The Euromaidan protests in Ukraine began a year ago today and continued for months, through the long winter of 2013-14. During the days of waiting and of celebrating people’s power on Kiev’s Independence Square, the world had the chance to meet many ordinary Ukrainians as well as political leaders and celebrities who joined in the protests.
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Moscow must prevent a “color revolution” in Russia and stop extremism, warning of the threat posed by illegal immigration and “radical” Internet sites that recruit youths.
Russia’s Igor Strelkov: I Am Responsible for War in Eastern Ukraine
The Moscow Times
Russian national Igor Strelkov, a former commander of pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine, has claimed “personal responsibility” for unleashing the conflict across the border, in which 4,300 people have been killed since April.
Russia said on Thursday that the United States providing weapons to Ukraine’s government to fight separatists in the country’s east would escalate the conflict and be in violation of a number of agreements.
Since Putin’s intervention in Ukraine, Russia’s economic situation has worsened severely. GDP inched upwards only 0.7% in the third quarter from a year earlier, and the International Monetary Fund is forecasting mere 0.2% growth for all of 2014. Sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European Union in the wake of Putin’s intervention in Ukraine have blocked some major Russian banks and companies from accessing financing in the West, starving them of much-needed foreign capital. As a result, the value of the Russian currency, the ruble, has deteriorated by 30% against the dollar so far this year, routinely hitting new record lows along the way.
Abe Dissolves Japan’s Lower House of Parliament
The Wall Street Journal
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe officially dissolved the lower house of parliament Friday, setting the stage for a snap election next month in what he said is a bid to win a mandate for his reflationary economic policies.
Japan stepped up its role in large-scale war games with the United States this week, with one of its admirals commanding air and sea maneuvers that the U.S. military described as the most complex ever overseen by the Japanese navy.
China, in Surprise Move to Prop Up Economy, Cuts Interest Rates
The New York Times
China’s central bank on Friday announced a surprise cut to interest rates, in the clearest sign yet that policy makers are growing increasingly concerned the country’s economic slowdown.
China’s defense minister called on Friday for better regional crisis management, saying that his country’s armed forces wanted peace but would never forget bitter lessons of the past.
Hong Kong Protesters Divide
The Wall Street Journal
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement is showing fractures as student leaders grapple with waning public support and increasing discontent from a small group of protesters who want to pursue a more-confrontational strategy.
Struggling Mongolia picks new premier
An economic downturn in Mongolia has prompted its parliament to appoint a new prime minister, Chimed Saikhanbileg. His predecessor was accused of failing to turn major mineral deposits into tangible revenue.
Ebola operation stepped up
The United Nations Radio
Efforts are speeding up to limit the spread of ebola with UN medical specialists now targeting countries most at risk from an outbreak.
Brent crude oil traded near $80 a barrel on Friday after China cut interest rates and on speculation OPEC could agree next week to reduce oil production.
Russia may cut oil production to shore up flagging prices, but its ability to change output is limited and no decision has been made yet, its energy minister said, underlining Moscow’s desire for a higher oil price.
Natural gas futures rose in New York to the highest price in almost five months as a blast of arctic air spurred heating-fuel demand.
Europe is set to become a dumping ground for the world’s unwanted gas supplies this winter as Asian demand for sea-borne shipments fizzles out, leaving dealers to seek out willing buyers at rock bottom prices.
Finland and Estonia Monday (17 November) reached an agreement to build two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, connected by a pipeline across the Gulf of Finland by 2019.
ITER fusion project names French nuclear official as new chief
ITER, the €13 billion international fusion reactor under construction in France, has chosen Bernard Bigot, chair of France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), as its next director-general. Bigot will replace Osamu Motojima and will begin his 5-year term next June.
Technology & Science
3D printer activated aboard the International Space Station
The dream of a self-sufficient space-faring civilization moved a step closer to reality this week as a commercial 3D printer was installed aboard the International Space Station for a tryout in orbit.
On Our Flashpoint Blog
Iran’s Negotiating Team: Who’s Who
Nuclear fusion laser cleans up coal emissions
Caroline Julia von Wurden
The Naval Research Laboratory is developing a way to clean up coal emissions from a laser developed for nuclear fusion.
Partnering for Prosperity: The State of U.S.-EU Relations
In the wake of Russian aggression, ISIL, climate change, Ebola, trade negotiations, elections in the European Union and the United States, and new leadership in the European Commission, U.S.-EU cooperation comes at a time when partnership is more important than ever.
Challenges in Nuclear Verification: The IAEA’s Role on the Iranian Nuclear Issue
Yukiya Amano, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, spoke at the Brookings Institution to discuss the challenges in verifying Iran’s nuclear program.
Amidst Concerns Over Repression, Egypt Means Business
A significant delegation of U.S. companies recently completed a two-day visit to Egypt which was designed to explore possible investment opportunities for U.S. companies.
Getting the old band back together? A possible partnership between ISIS and al-Qaeda
ISIS and al-Qaeda are now in direct competition to carry the banner of jihad. It would be a significant development if al-Qaeda and ISIS were to reemerge as partners in Syria.
ASP Conference – Pakistan: Aid, Trade, and Security
December 9 @ 12:00pm – 2:00pm
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.