September 30, 2014

Heard in London

By Jeremy Bradshad

When President Reagan wanted to destroy the Soviet Union, he secretly asked the Saudis to raise the price oil. That helped trigger the bankruptcy of the USSR because Moscow lacked the dollars to buy imported fuel.

Today, with a resurgent Russia, the Saudis are again deploying the oil weapon against the Kremlin, according to Neil Barnett, a London-based security-and-risk analyst. But this time, there is a twist.

Saudis Use Oil as a Weapon Against Russia
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi mistakenly predicted stable oil prices at a December meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. (Karim Jaafar/Getty Images)
Ukraine Walks a Tightrope Between EU and Russia
September 24, 2014
Ukraine’s moves to strike a trade agreement with the European Union while also granting self-rule and amnesty to pro-Russian rebels represent a careful strategy. Ukraine is trying to protect what is left of its sovereignty without risking further interference from Russia. However, key elements of the EU agreement will not be implemented until late 2015 at the earliest because of Russian pressure. There are also concerns Moscow could eventually kill the deal.
War Against ISIS Collides With Iran Nuclear Talks
September 23, 2014
The multilateral talks on Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program that resumed last week are again mired in controversy. Conflicting statements by Washington and Tehran about a possible Iranian role in combatting the terrorist army of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has divided experts and raised new concerns from the U.S. Congress. Many in Congress also are worried about new proposed compromises by the Obama administration that would allow Iran to keep all of its centrifuges as long as most of them are “disconnected.”
China Thwarts Hong Kong Democracy While US, Britain Dither
September 23, 2014
The Chinese government is taking a heavy-handed approach to Hong Kong’s efforts to conduct free elections, another indication of Beijing’s intent to tamp down democratic elements in the former British colony and beyond. Despite pledges to respect Hong Kong’s independence in such matters, the Chinese legislature has voted to establish a vetting process that will allow only pro-Chinese government candidates to run for office.
Obama’s Warning Might Have Alerted ISIS to Airstrikes in Syria
September 23, 2014
SITUATION REPORT

Airstrikes in Syria conducted Monday night by the United States with the support of five Arab nations sent a decisive message to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and marked a significant diplomatic achievement. However, questions remain about whether President Obama and his aides undermined the operation with public warnings that airstrikes in Syria were imminent.
Ambitious Mayor of London Poised for Bigger Things
September 22, 2014
by Peter Warburton and Tom Traill

Few celebrities are recognized by a single name. There is Elvis, Cher, Beyonce and — in Britain — Boris. The flamboyant, mop-headed and highly successful mayor of London, Boris Johnson is widely seen as a politician so popular that he could replace British Prime Minister David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party and maybe as leader of the country.

China’s Xi Seeks to Offset Budding Japan-India Alliance
September 22, 2014
The first Chinese presidential visit to India in eight years is highlighting a growing pragmatism among Beijing’s neighbors, as old enemies look toward new trade while trying to deal with Chinese territorial aggression on both land and sea.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who arrived in India on Wednesday, is trying to lure New Delhi away from developing too close a relationship with Tokyo, China’s archrival in the region. The recent, enthusiastic 5-day Japan-India summit sent a loud signal which was clearly heard in Beijing. [See New India-Japan Partnership Counters China’s Clout, Sept. 12.]

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