July 30, 2014
By Brian M. Downing

Denied their own state at the end of World War I as 
European powers divided up the Ottoman Empire, Kurds today are using the chaos of a dissolving Iraq to move toward greater autonomy, if not outright independence. A referendum on independence for the Kurdish region of Iraq is planned, and public enthusiasm for a complete break with Baghdad is high.
Emerging Kurdistan is New Player in Fractious Middle East
A rug made in the image of Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani is viewed in a market in Erbil on July 3, 2014. Barzani asked members of Parliament this month to start making plans for an independence referendum. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Venezuela’s Maduro Survives With Tacit US Support
July 29, 2014
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is clinging to power with backing from security forces, and the lack of U.S. sanctions over civil rights abuses will probably give him enough of a lifeline to continue hanging on unless major protests erupt.
Stranger Than Fiction: Airliner Disaster Prompts Russian Propaganda Machine
July 28, 2014
What are the odds of two commercial passenger jets of the same make and belonging to the same airline company both disappearing from the skies and radar screens under unknown circumstances and only months apart?
In Global Markets, Gold Is All That Glitters
July 28, 2014
Special Economic Analysis
by Peter Warburton, PhD

Ten years ago, gold investors were considered to be mavericks: relics of the Great Depression era, fearing the imminent breakdown of civilization or the outbreak of war. Since then, the appeal of gold has broadened considerably. Central banks were net sellers of gold in 2004 and are net buyers today. Gold miners sold their production forward in 2004, but not now. The breakthrough for gold is the greater investment allocation by global fund managers seeking to manage portfolio risk.

Strained US Ties Seen as Israel Rejects Cease-fire Pleas
July 28, 2014

Despite a request yesterday by President Obama to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and a Security Council demand late last night for a cease-fire, Israeli officials refuse to pause hostilities and reportedly plan to expand their offensive in Gaza.
New Caliph Wins Few Converts but ISIS Army Poses Major Threat
July 25, 2014
Amidst the furor over the Israel-Hamas war and the horrific downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is suddenly yesterday’s news. But ISIS and its leader, the self-proclaimed Caliph Ibrahim, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, itself a nom de guerre, remain center stage in the Middle East.
German-Russian Warming Ties Threatened by Airline Disaster
July 25, 2014
Germany’s warmer relations with Russia and cooler ones with the United States and Europe have characterized Berlin’s foreign and trade policy during recent years. Commercial and political ties to Russia have been strengthened, most significantly in vigorous opposition to any meaningful European economic sanctions against Russia for annexing Crimea and supporting pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.

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