Links to Start Your Week 12/15/13

Middle East

The decline of the House of Saud begins. The country is struggling to maintain its monarchy in the wake of the Arab Spring.


Here’s a map and some analysis to help you sort through the current protests in Ukraine. Essentially, the president decided to make a deal for greater cooperation with Russia instead of one with the European Union, and many Ukrainians feel betrayed. And polling shows that while 45% of Ukrainians support greater integration with the EU and only 14% with Russia, anther 41% don’t support either deal.

France passed a new law increasing penalties for buying sex, based on a similar one in Sweden. Slate looks at how these laws are passed without input from any sex workers and often against the backdrop of opposition and protests from the very people they purport to protect.


There has been a lot of writing about Nelson Mandela lately, and rightly so. Here is a take from a South African newspaper.

In the Central African Republic, violence has broken out between Muslims and Christians. France has already sent in peacekeepers, and the U.S. helping to equip and transport more African Union peacekeepers. The U.N. warns that the country may be spiraling towards genocide. The president has offered to meet with the leaders of Christian militias to discuss peace.

National Security/Intelligence

A man the CIA claimed did not work for them, was in fact working for them when he was captured in Iran six years ago. The agency currently does not know whether Robert Levinson is alive or dead. Shockingly, it seems they also broke some of their own rules during his time contracting with them.

Just a casual reminder of how bloated our defense budget is.

The NSA (or at least some officials within the agency) is considering offering Edward Snowden amnesty in exchange for the documents he has.


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