Center for Strategic Communication

Middle East, Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Syria: Isis chief executioner found beheaded with cigarette in his mouth
Gianluca Mezzofiore | International Business Times
In a grotesque twist of the saying “live by the sword, die by the sword”, an Islamic State executioner in Syria who carried out beheadings for the jihadist group has been found with his head cut off.

Rouhani urges end to Iran’s isolation
Mehrdad Balali and Michelle Moghtader | Reuters
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for curbs on the state’s involvement in business and an end to Tehran’s international isolation on Sunday to help rescue an economy hurt by sanctions, corruption and mismanagement.

Female suicide bomber strikes in Istanbul, killing policeman
Desmond Butler | Associated Press
A female suicide bomber blew herself up at a police station in Istanbul on Tuesday, killing one policeman and wounding another, according to Turkish authorities

160 Children Dead in Syria School Attacks in 2014, Says Unicef
Wall Street Journal
The United Nations children’s agency says at least 160 children were killed and 343 were injured in attacks on schools in Syria last year.

The Americas

Obama seeks help of Mexico’s Pena Nieto on Cuba, immigration
Nedra Pickler | Associated Press
President Barack Obama hosted Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the White House Tuesday, looking to his southern neighbor for help implementing changing policies on immigration and Cuba.

Cuba has released some of 53 ‘political’ prisoners, U.S. says
Arshad Mohammed and Doina Chiacu | Reuters
Cuba has freed some of 53 people the United States regards as political prisoners as agreed under last month’s U.S.-Cuban rapprochement and Washington wants to see the rest released soon, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.

Obama Nears Goal for Guantánamo With Faster Pace of Releases
Helene Cooper | New York Times
In a series of secret nighttime flights in the last two months, the Obama administration made more progress toward the president’s goal of emptying the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, than it had since 2009. The accelerated pace came after an era of political infighting and long bureaucratic delays. 


South Korea: North Korea has 6,000-member cyber army
Associated Press
South Korea said Tuesday that rival North Korea has a 6,000-member cyber army dedicated to disrupting the South’s military and government, a dramatic increase from an earlier estimate of 3,000 such specialists.

More objects found in AirAsia wreck hunt, but no sign of black box
Wilda Asmarini and Eveline Danubrata | Reuters
Search teams scouring the ocean for the wreckage of an AirAsia jet found two new metal objects on Tuesday, but nine days after the plane crashed officials say there is still no sign of the crucial black box flight recorders.

Energy Security, Science and Technology, Climate Change

Oil price dips below $53 as fears of global economic slowdown intensify
Larry Elliott and Rebecca Smithers | The Guardian
Stock markets believe slide from peak of $115 a barrel last summer reflects slowdown in China, recession in Japan and looming eurozone deflation.

Saudi slashes monthly oil prices to Europe; trims U.S., ups Asia
Catherine Ngai and David Sheppard | Reuters
Saudi Arabia made deep cuts to its monthly oil prices for European buyers on Monday, a move some analysts said reflects the kingdom’s deepening defense of market share, although it also hiked prices in Asia from record lows.

America’s most ambitious infrastructure project of the century
David Dayen | Salon
The most important kickoff in America today will not happen in Washington, where the 114th Congress begins its work. No, a far more consequential beginning takes place on the other side of the country, in modest Fresno, California, at an invitation-only ceremony on the corner of Tulare and G Streets.

Wintry Weather Strikes Middle East, Bringing Cold Sandstorm
Associated Press
A powerful winter storm began striking across the Middle East on Tuesday, bringing a bitter cold to Syrian refugees huddled in Lebanon and blanketing Cairo in a sandstorm.

On Our Flashpoint Blog

Welcome to 21st Century Warfare
Dante Disparte
As the scale and sovereign culprit behind the attack on Sony were revealed, the world awakens to the specter of an uncomfortable new normal emerging in warfare – cyber terrorism. 

5 MENA News Stories You May Have Missed Over the Holidays
Maggie Feldman-Piltch 

Principles in Action: Stability Through Trade
Luke Lorenz
The United States must pursue trade policies, which increase prosperity, decrease inequality and create durable peace around the globe.

It is Time for a Cyber FDIC
Dante Disparte
In today’s modern frictionless economy, the principal requisite for growth and order is the free flow of sensitive information, banking transactions and private data on a global scale.

Water Security in Central Asia: Rogun Dam and Human Rights
Elise Reifschneider
Construction on Tajikistan’s Rogun hydropower plant began in 1976; thirty-eight years later, the Rogun Dam is still unfinished.

10 Key National Security Challenges in 2015
Paul Hamill
The United States and its allies are going to face a variety of challenges on the international stage in 2015, many will take forward the situations that arose in 2014, but others are long-term strategic issues. Here are 10 key challenges for 2015.

A strategic vision from Gelb
BGen Stephen A. Cheney USMC (Ret.)
It always seems so easy to just send in the 82nd Airborne Division, let them perform their magic for a year or two, then pull them out and think the problem is solved. Never, never that simple.

Key Quotes on the U.S.-Cuba Relations
Marylin Carino

Upcoming Events 

Economic Diplomacy: How Economic Ties Can Strengthen National Security with Amb. Rivkin
January 15 @ 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Join ASP on January 15, 2015 as we welcome Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles H. Rivkin for Economic Diplomacy: How Economic Ties Can Strengthen National Security.

Conference – Energy Security in the Caribbean: Unique Challenges
February 4 @ 12:00pm – 5:00pm
Join ASP as we host a conference on February 4, 2015, discussing the challenges facing the Caribbean in securing their energy future and how to move forward in the years to come.



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