October 21, 2014

By Alec Weisman

Worried by the recent success of Shiite tribesmen in Yemen, Sunni-ruled Bahrain is desperate to deter its Shiite-majority population from reviving their Arab Spring protests. However, the latest aggressive crackdown in the tiny island kingdom just before parliamentary elections next month may backfire and lead to greater unrest for the strategically important American ally torn between the two main factions of Islam.

Islamic Tensions Rock Strategic US Ally Bahrain
Anti-government protests demand democratic reforms in a September demonstration in Bahrain. (Mohammed al-Shaikh/Getty Images)
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.]

ISIS Beheading Plot Blocked Down Under, Resonates in US
September 22, 2014
SITUATION REPORT

A foiled ISIS plot to behead innocent Australians is the clearest indication to date of the terrorist group’s intention to commit acts of violence far beyond its borders and to retaliate against any nation that opposes its brutal form of Islam. The plot will strengthen the resolve of some U.S. politicians who are on the fence about to the United States posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Putin Imposes His Own Sanctions Against the West
September 19, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing a strategic game over sanctions, as he retaliates against Western punitive measures imposed on Moscow over its aggression in Ukraine. But his sanctions against the West are like a double-edged sword. They damage domestic markets in both the West and in Russia because of lost trade.
Four Strategic Consequences of a ‘Yes’ Vote in Scotland
September 18, 2014
Scottish independence is hardly a simple matter of kilts and bagpipes and Braveheart shouting, “Freedom!” If Scottish voters Thursday approve a referendum to separate from England, they would wreak unprecedented damage on the United Kingdom.

A breakup of Britain would weaken the international security posture and diplomatic clout of both England and Scotland. Moving the Trident submarines would make NATO more vulnerable. A ‘yes’ vote would also encourage Europe’s other separatist movements and change the political makeup of England by making it a more conservative nation without the leftist Scots.
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