F16 fighters of the Jordanian Air Force waiting to connect for fuel over Jordan on October 19, 2009. Image: Caycee Cook/Wikimedia
This article was originally published by World Affairs on 12 February, 2015.
Following the gruesome murder of First Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh, Jordan has reportedly launched more than 50 airstrikes in three days in Syria, marking a dramatic increase in its direct military action against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. King Abdullah II has said his nation will continue to fight ISIS until it runs out of “fuel and bullets.”
Jordan’s decision to avenge the death of its airman has now become central to the debate on how to combat terrorism in the region. Jordan has always been a close ally against extremism; however, the death of Kasasbeh has ushered in a level of direct military engagement as yet unseen from our Arab allies. This heightened engagement from Jordan is exactly what is needed to combat the spread of ISIS in the region. » More
Two lines of cocaine. Image: Nightlife of Revelry/Flickr
This article was originally published by the World Policy Institute on 3 February 2015.
The home of cocaine production has a new address. Stepping out from behind the shadows of its more notorious peers in the region, Peru is taking the helm from its South American neighbors as the leading producer of cocaine in the world. While Colombia’s production declines due to concerted efforts by both its government and U.S. foreign agencies (along with FARC being open to negotiations), a once dormant industry from Peru’s troubled past has resurfaced to meet market demand.
In the early 1990s, Peru was a major producer of cocaine but was eventually surpassed by Colombia following aggressive government policies in Peru to combat the black market trade. These policies have faded over time, and thus the expansion of cocaine growing has boomed once again. » More
Mars Ice island, Beaufort Sea Alaska. A 60 day exploratory well built offshore, 8 km off Cape Halkut near NPR-A. Image: SonicR/Wikimedia
This article was originally published by Oilprice.com on 1 February, 2015.
Oil companies have eyed the Arctic for years. With an estimated 90 billion barrels of oil lying north of the Arctic Circle, the circumpolar north is arguably the last corner of the globe that is still almost entirely unexplored.
As drilling technology advances, conventional oil reserves become harder to find, and climate change contributes to melting sea ice, the Arctic has moved up on the list of priorities in oil company board rooms.
That had companies moving north – Royal Dutch Shell off the coast of Alaska, Statoil in the Norwegian Arctic, and ExxonMobil in conjunction with Russia’s Rosneft in the Russian far north. » More
Free Syrian Army rebels take up positions along an embankment on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Maraat al-Numan, Syria. Image: FreedomHouse/Flickr
This article was originally published by the Middle East Institute on 31 January, 2015.
Around 100 Syrian opposition figures recently concluded a conference in Cairo. The meeting was noteworthy for two reasons. It signaled Cairo’s cautious but unmistakable entry into the Syrian minefield, and it marks the still-fragmented opposition’s first careful steps in the direction of a compromise with the Assad regime.
President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi’s government is determined to rehabilitate Egypt’s pan-Arab image and to restore an Egyptian role in Arab affairs—in Syria and elsewhere. “Egypt,” explains one close observer of the diplomatic efforts on Syria, “is trying to replace Istanbul as the capital of the opposition.”[i] » More
Tear gas used against protesters in Altamira, Caracas, 2014. Image: Andrés E. Azpúrua/Wikimedia
This article was originally published by Southern Pulse on 22 January 2015.
On 14 January 2014, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro promised the Petrocaribe alliance would continue and its twenty member countries would further consolidate into a “great economic zone.” President Maduro’s guarantee comes at a precarious time for his country, as a rapid and unexpected slump in global oil prices, coupled with persistent economic stagnation in Venezuela, have undercut his administration’s ability to maintain its social programs and address the country’s financial imbalances. » More