Center for Strategic Communication

Key Reads

U.S., Cuba Quietly Open Historic New Chapter in Post-Cold War Ties

Matt Spetalnick / Reuters
The United States and Cuba quietly ushered in a new era of post-Cold War relations on Monday, formally restoring diplomatic ties severed more than five decades ago and re-establishing embassies in each other’s capitals.
Banks in Greece Reopen, and Sales Taxes Add to Confusion
Liz Alderman, Anemona Hartocollis / Reuters
Greek banks opened their doors on Monday after being closed for three weeks in a move intended to ward off a collapse in the banking system. But the access was mostly symbolic, as the government maintained strict limits on cash withdrawals and controls on the movement of capital, which have hampered Greek businesses and dealt the economy a new blow.

U.N. Security Council Endorses Iran Nuclear Deal

Michelle Nichols / Reuters

The United Nations Security Council on Monday endorsed a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, but it will be able to re-impose U.N. penalties during the next decade if Tehran breaches the historic agreement.


American Competitiveness

The $42 Billion Debt Trap That Putin Has Three Years to Escape

Anna Andrianova, Vladimir Kuznetsov /Bloomberg Business

The clock is ticking for President Vladimir Putin to defuse a situation he set off in 2012 with decrees to raise social spending. That contributed to a doubling in the debt load of Russia’s more than 80 regions to 2.4 trillion rubles ($42 billion) in the past five years. Strains on their finances will grow critical in two or three years, raising the risk of bailouts from a federal budget already running a deficit for the first time since 2010, according to S&P.

Iran Risks Will Curb Investor Enthusiasm Even as Sanctions Ease

Indira Lakshmanan / Bloomberg Business
The end of economic sanctions on Iran under this week’s nuclear deal has been portrayed as a gold-rush opportunity in an oil-rich Gulf state, but returning to business as usual won’t be as easy as the burst of enthusiasm suggests. Investors who wait months for sanctions to be lifted will then have to gamble that they won’t run afoul of enduring blacklists or the vow by the U.S. and other world powers that sanctions will “snap back” into place if Iran fails to live up to commitments to restrict its nuclear program.


National Security & Strategy

China’s President Xi Says Army Must Be Stronger, Remove Stain of Corruption

Duncan Hewitt / IB Times

China’s President Xi Jinping has called for a strengthening of management and training in the Chinese military, to ensure its loyalty to the ruling Communist Party, and to wipe out the “damaging” impact of a recent corruption scandal.

Chinese, Russian Militaries to Participate in International War Games Amid Tensions With West
Thomas Barrabi / IB Times

Members of China’s armed forces arrived in Russia Monday with an assortment of tanks and other military equipment to participate in war games, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The Russian military has carried out extensive training exercises throughout the country and around the world in recent months despite criticism from the international community.


Asymmetric Operations

Report: ISIS Steps Up Use of Chemicals on Battlefields in Iraq and Syria

Samira Said, Tim Lister / CNN

ISIS recently used devices filled with chemical agents against Kurdish forces and civilians in both Iraq and Syria, a joint investigation by two independent organizations has found. The findings build on previous reporting that ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) has begun to adapt both suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to include chlorine and other chemicals and may seek to exploit the use of chemicals as it develops new weapons.
Anti-Houthi Forces Advance in Yemen Amid Heavy Arab Air Strikes

Noah Browning / Reuters
Local fighters and army forces in Yemen wrested two military bases from Houthi forces overnight, residents and officials said, building on a week of gains against the country’s dominant faction. The advances come a day after Yemen’s government in exile declared the key southern city of Aden “liberated”, in their biggest victory yet in a Saudi-led air campaign and civil war that has raged almost four months and killed more than 3,500 people.


Climate Security

Japan Aims for 26 Percent Cut in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Devin Henry / The Hill

Japan announced Friday that it will look to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent from 2013 levels by 2030. Japanese officials will submit the plan to the United Nations on Friday, Reuters reports, ahead of a global conference on climate change in Paris later this year. The United States has pledged to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, based on 2005 levels. Japan’s target, which uses 2013 as a baseline, looks to cut its emissions deeper than the plans submitted by major emitters like the U.S. and the European Union.

Obama Unveils New Coal Mining Rules
Timothy Cama / The Hill

The Obama administration Thursday unveiled new standards meant to better protect streams in Appalachia from the controversial mountaintop removal coal mining process. The proposed rule, from the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining (OSM), would update three-decade-old standards that create a buffer zone around streams, prohibiting mining activities and waste from getting near them and harming the ecosystem.


Energy Security

Oil Extends Losses as Iranian Supply Counters Drop in U.S. Rigs
Mark Shenk, Grant Smith / Bloomberg Business

Oil extended losses in the wake of a third weekly retreat as investors weighed the prospect of more Iranian barrels against a drop in U.S. drilling rigs. Crude in London fell as much as 1.1 percent after declining 2.8 percent last week. Iran will focus on regaining oil sales it lost due to sanctions regardless of the impact on prices, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said in Tehran. The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted an Iran deal resolution Monday. The number of active drilling rigs targeting oil in the U.S. shrank by seven to 638, Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday.


Nuclear Security

Congress Formally Receives Iran Nuclear Agreement

Ralph Boulton / Huffington Post

President Barack Obama’s administration sent a nuclear agreement with Tehran to Congress on Sunday and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged U.S. lawmakers to reject a deal he said would only feed an “Iranian terror machine. Obama has promised to exercise his veto if Congress rejects the deal, which curbs Iran’s nuclear program while allowing an easing of economic sanctions.


On Our Flashpoint Blog

Panel Recap: Can the IAEA Effectively Verify the Iran Nuclear Agreement?

Riza Kumar

18 days and 159 pages later, a nuclear agreement has finally been reached between Iran and the P5+1.This agreement is not guaranteeing the normalization of relations between Iran and the West, but it does placate one major concern regarding international security. This deal ensures that Iran’s nuclear program will be severely limited to peaceful purposes.

U.S. Shifts Away from Coal and Towards Natural Gas

William George

Natural gas overtook coal as the top source of US electric power generation for the first time ever this spring. Natural gas accounted for 31% of electric power generation while coal accounted for 30%, according to a report released by SNL Energy. Nuclear energy came in at third with 20%. This shift is not surprising, however, as natural gas prices have continued their downward slide and new regulations that the EPA is beginning to implement make utilities question the future of coal. This is a much-needed step toward improving US energy security, production, and efficiency.

Climate Change and National Security: Chicago

Porter Brockway

On Thursday, July 9th, American Security Project sent representatives to Chicago to discuss the impacts of climate change on U.S. national security in a series of public events, and interviews. The issues of how climate change is affecting security, how institutions in the region are planning for it, and how it will impact the careers of military and civilians working on national security in the future were all covered.


ASP Recently Published

Perspective – Energy and Geopolitics in the Eastern Mediterranean

Andrew Holland

Since 2009, there have been a succession of substantial natural gas finds in the Levantine Basin, under the Mediterranean Sea between Israel and Cyprus. How to regulate, tax, and export the gas continues to be controversial in Israeli politics. However, the strategic benefits of using energy resources to more closely tie Israel with its long-hostile neighbors are too compelling to ignore. This report analyzes the risks and opportunities involved in such an endeavor.

Perspective: Potential Areas of Cooperation Between the U.S. and Cuba

American Security Project

Latin America and the Caribbean are critical regions for U.S. security, but the lack of open communication between the U.S. and Cuba weakens America’s ability to operate in these areas. Open dialogue with Cuba will help the U.S. maintain security, and could also bring potential economic opportunities. Understanding that the isolation of Cuba has not proven to be an effective policy, this paper examines a variety of possibilities for cooperation between the United States and Cuba.


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