Center for Strategic Communication

Key Reads 

IS Says It Was Behind US Prophet Cartoon Attack
Islamic State (IS) has said that it was behind the attack on a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in the US state of Texas. It said that “two soldiers of the caliphate” carried out the attack at a conference centre near Dallas.

Dozens Feared Dead in New Migrant Boat Tragedy
The Associated Press
Dozens of passengers in a crowded rubber boat fell into the sea and likely drowned as a rescue vessel neared, survivors reported as they arrived in Italy Tuesday to join thousands of other migrants rescued in the Mediterranean in recent days.


American Competitiveness & Economic Diplomacy

U.S. Trade Deficit Largest Since 2008 as Imports Surge
Lucia Mutikani / Reuters
The U.S. trade deficit surged to its highest level in nearly 6-1/2 years in March as imports rebounded strongly after being held down by a labor dispute at key West Coast ports, suggesting the economy contracted in the first quarter.

UN Calls for Suspension of TTIP Talks Over Fears of Human Rights Abuses
Phillip Inman / The Guardian
A senior UN official has called for controversial trade talks between the European Union and the US to be suspended over fears that a mooted system of secret courts used by major corporations would undermine human rights.


National Security & Strategy

John Kerry Lands in Somalia, First Ever U.S. Secretary of State to Visit
Alexander Smith, Matthew Grimson / NBC
John Kerry made an unannounced visit to Somalia on Tuesday — the first U.S. secretary of state ever to travel to the country riven by decades of war and grappling with an Islamist insurgency.
Russia Shows Off New High-Tech Tank
Brad Lendon / CNN
The wraps are off Russia’s new main battle tank. Copies of the new Armata T-14 medium tank have been rumbling through Moscow this week as the Russian military practices for Saturday’s Victory Day parade commemorating the end of World War II in Europe.

EU Says Seeking Closer Security Cooperation with China
Ben Blanchard / Reuters
Europe aims to improve security and defense cooperation with China, especially in the Middle East and in the fight against human trafficking, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Tuesday following high-level talks in Beijing.

China Has Reason to be Worried About North Korea’s Nukes
Emily Rauhala / TIME Magazine
In East Asia, North Korea is less of a joke than a policy imperative—as we were reminded this week. Reporting published Thursday by the Wall Street Journal suggests that China may be worried—or more worried than normal—about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Citing “people briefed on the matter,” the paper reported that Chinese experts privately advised American nuclear specialists that Pyongyang may have up to 20 warheads, as well as enough weapons-grade uranium to double that number within a year.

French Parliament Due to Approve New Surveillance Rules
New rules to provide help for France’s intelligence services trying to prevent Islamist attacks are expected to be approved by parliament. The law on intelligence-gathering comes nearly four months after three days of attacks in Paris in January, in which 17 people were killed.


Asymmetric Operations

‘Crime Against Humanity on a Daily Basis’ in Aleppo, Amnesty Reports
Louisa Loveluck / The Telegraph
Forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on a daily basis in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo, according to Amnesty International. The extent of city’s destruction was detailed in a report released by the group on Tuesday.

Iraq Sends Troops to Key Refinery Amid Heavy Clashes With IS
Sinan Salaheddin / The Associated Press
Reinforcements are being rushed to the key Beiji refinery in northern Iraq amid heavy fighting with Islamic State militants who have been trying to capture the facility for months, Iraqi officials said Tuesday.

Syrian Forces Kill Attackers in Damascus
Anne Barnard / The New York Times
Security forces battled insurgents in a heavily guarded area of Damascus on Monday, killing two attackers as one blew himself up, local news media reported, in a clash that was unusually intense for the center of the capital even after more than four years of war in Syria.


Public Diplomacy

RT as a Foreign Agent: Political Propaganda in a Globalized World
Matthew Armstrong / War on the Rocks
Recently, a member of Russia’s Duma suggested that a Kremlin organization operating in the United States be designated as a lobbyist under the same law. Ilya Ponomarev, currently in exile in California due to his opposition to the invasion of Crimea, said that calling RT, formerly known as Russia Today, a news media organization was wrong. “I think it’s a lobbying tool,” he told Buzzfeed, “and it should be regulated as a lobbyist rather than media.”


Climate Security

White House: Prepare for Climate Change in Infrastructure Planning
Timothy Cama / The Hill
The Obama administration is convening local and state leaders and experts Tuesday to encourage infrastructure planning to incorporate climate change preparation. The administration is hoping that along with factors like population and economic growth, local and state governments can think of a changing climate when they build highways, bridges, transit and other projects.


Energy Security

Oil Prices Rise Above $60 a Barrel
Christian Berthelsen / The Wall Street Journal
Oil prices surged Tuesday after a protest in Libya shut down one of the nation’s crude-export hubs and Saudi Arabia’s national oil company raised prices for the U.S. and Europe, a bullish signal of strengthening demand.

Readying the Distributed Grid for the Big Energy Challenges of 2035
Ronald Litzinger / Xconomy
Predicting the future in the energy business is difficult for five years, let alone 20 years. That said, we feel the “better bet” is a future energy system that will be a lot more distributed as compared to the largely centralized grid of today. There will be much more generation and storage at the individual customer level. Power will flow in both directions—to and from the grid—not just in one direction. As a result, we will need much more sophisticated digital controls, using monitoring and protection systems that will operate much smarter than the largely electro-mechanical devices of today.

Nuclear Security

France, Saudi Arabia: Iran Nuclear Deal Must be Verifiable, No Threat to Region
John Irish / Reuters
France and Saudi Arabia believe that any future nuclear accord between Iran and six major powers must be robust, verifiable and no threat to Tehran’s neighbors, the two countries said ahead of a summit in Riyadh on Tuesday.


On Our Flashpoint Blog

A Few Points on the Geopolitics of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Joshua Walker

Washington is abuzz once again with talk of free trade, presidential authority, and Congressional responsibility. Last week’s announcement that movement is being made towards fast-track authority for President Obama in vital trade deals is an encouraging sign that the U.S. Congress is serious about advancing free trade in the coming years.

Non-Proliferation Through Strength: A Hawk’s Case for a Deal With Iran

Sungtae “Jacky” Park

A major concern that opponents of the recent nuclear framework deal with Iran have is that the final agreement will leave Iran as a “nuclear threshold state” after a decade. Those who make such arguments, however, do not adequately take into account the demand-side of proliferation.


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.

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