Links to Start Your Week 1/25/15

Middle East

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has died. His 79-year-old brother succeeds him. Meanwhile, the once close relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia has gotten somewhat more strained, but has not been severed. As has always been the case, one of the key reasons for that is Saudi oil.

You may have heard that ISIL has taken two Japanese citizens hostage. They have reportedly already killed one of them, but want to trade the other for an Iraqi woman being held in Jordan who is accused of attempting to commit a suicide bombing attack.

Speaking of ISIL and women, Dissent magazine has a discussion on the reasons Western women are joining the group.

Houthi rebels have essentially seized control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. The rebels are staunchly opposed to Al Qaeda, but also to the U.S., and have some links to Iran. It seems like a microcosm of Middle East politics: the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend.


As the Afghan drawdown continues, the Council on Foreign Relations has a primer on the history and future of the Taliban there and in Pakistan.

The Brookings Institute has answers to five questions about President Obama’s upcoming trip to India for their Republic Day celebration.

The World Affairs Journal looks at 1. Whether the Chechen insurgency is growing increasingly closer to ISIL, and 2. Whether their infamous “black widow” suicide bombers are starting to become more involved on the global scale.

Latin America

Chile is still in the process of dismantling the remnants of the Pinochet dictatorship, nearly 30 years after it officially ended.

Several Cuban intellectuals react to the U.S. lifting of some travel and trade restrictions between the two countries (only Congress can actually end the embargo.)

National Security

White House officials have essentially bragged about the numbers of ISIL militants killed in our conflict with them. The military has tried to downplay those boasts, cognizant of the fact that inflated body counts were used during the Vietnam War in an attempt to bolster support for that war. The fact remains that a body count is not an accurate measure of success in a war against ideas.

John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer imprisoned for talking to reporters about the agency’s use of torture, did an interview with The Intercept. Kiriakou remains the only CIA officer prosecuted, not for torturing anyone but for blowing the whistle on the abuses committed by his fellow officers.

The American Prospect gets it right in analyzing the risk to freedom in the developed world from terrorist attacks versus the threat posed by overreactions to that threat.

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