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Red Alert: Rocket Fire Could Signal New Offensive on Mariupol

Stratfor has declared a Red Alert over Ukraine as we watch for signs of a new offensive. We do not yet know Russia’s strategic intentions. Reports of rocket fire and potential moves on the city of Mariupol could simply be an attempt to signal the danger Russia could pose to their negotiating partners in the West. It could be an attempt to extend the pocket separatists supported by Russia currently hold in eastern Ukraine. It could, finally, be the opening of an offensive toward Crimea.

Field Notes
Stratfor In The News

Kamran Bokhari on the Challenges Facing Saudi Arabia's New King

"Of all the kings Saudi Arabia has had, King Salman’s ascension to the throne comes at the worst time in the history of the kingdom," Kamran Bokhari, adviser for Middle Eastern and South Asian affairs at Texas-based consulting firm Stratfor, said by telephone from Toronto. “He comes in with so many domestic and external challenges."

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Kamran Bokhari on Sectarian Chaos in Yemen

"... effectively the Houthis are kingmakers. While they do not dominate Yemen, they control the largest piece of real estate and they are the single-largest group," said Kamran Bokhari, an adviser on Middle Eastern and South Asian Affairs for Stratfor.

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Situation/Intelligence Reports

Yemen: Al-Houthis Free Senior Presidential Aid

Al-Houthi rebels in Yemen have freed Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, a senior presidential aid abducted 10 days ago, BBC reported Jan. 27.

Jordan: Islamic State Gives Ultimatum

The Islamic State has threatened to kill Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto if Jordan fails to release a detained militant within 24 hours, Al Bawaba reported Jan. 27, citing unconfirmed Arabic media reports.

Iran: Lawmakers Agree To React Harshly To More Sanctions

More than 80 Iranian lawmakers signed a motion agreeing to react harshly if the United States were to impose new sanctions on the country, Tasnim News Agency reported Jan. 27.

Israel: Artillery Fire Hit Syrian Military Base, Reports Say

Artillery fired from Israel in response to rockets launched from Syria hit a Syrian government military base, according to Syrian news outlets Jan. 27, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Japan: Official In Jordan To Negotiate Hostage Release

Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama has been dispatched to Jordan to oversee efforts to free a Japanese hostage held by the Islamic State, Voice of America reported Jan. 27.

Israel, Syria: Fire Exchanged Across Border

Israel returned fire after at least two rockets from Syria were fired into the Golan Heights on Jan. 27, Ynet News reported.

Libya: One Arrested For Hotel Attack As Events Continue To Unfold

Tripoli's joint security operations team confirmed the arrest of one gunman for the attack on Corinthia hotel in Tripoli that has killed at least three so far, Libyan News Agency reported Jan. 27.

Russia: EU Leaders To Discuss New Sanctions

Leaders from all 28 EU member countries warned that they would impose more sanctions on Russia because of Moscow's involvement in recent fighting in Ukraine, Financial Times reported Jan. 27.

Russia: A Fifth Of Banks Could Collapse In 2015

Nearly a fifth of Russian banks risk collapse in 2015, Russian business daily Vedomosti reported Jan. 27, citing the Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecasting, a Russian think tank.

Israel: Projectiles Land In Golan Heights

Two projectiles fired from Syria have landed in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Jerusalem Post reported Jan. 27.

Iraq: Bullets Hit UAE Plane At Airport

Gunfire hit an Emirati passenger aircraft trying to land at the Baghdad International Airport on Jan. 26, Shafaq News reported Jan. 27.

China: Most Cities Miss 2014 Growth Targets

At least two-thirds of Chinese provinces and cities fell short of their 2014 economic growth targets, with coal-rich Shanxi province reporting a 4.9 percent growth rate, one of the lowest, Caixin reported Jan. 27.

Russia: Plan Approved To Cut State Spending

Moscow has approved an anti-crisis plan that would introduce structural reforms and reduce budget spending, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said, PRIME news reported Jan. 27.

Spain: NATO Plane Crash Kills 10, Injures 13

A Greek fighter jet lost power and crashed into a holding area for other aircraft shortly after it took off from the military section of Albacete airport in Spain, killing 10 and injuring 13 on Jan. 26, Reuters reported.

Yemen: U.S. Drone Strike Kills 3, Sources Say

An alleged U.S. drone strike killed three suspected operatives of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen on Jan. 26, AFP reported, citing tribal sources.

Central African Republic: Kidnapped Officials Freed

Eight Central African Republic officials, who were kidnapped by the country's former rebel coalition, have been handed over to U.N. peacekeepers, News 24 reported Jan. 26.

Nigeria: Military Maintains Control Of Maiduguri, Struggles To Recapture Monguno

Nigerian troops backed by airstrikes are fighting to recapture the northeastern town of Monguno, which Boko Haram seized Jan. 25 after forcing ground troops to retreat, Reuters reported Jan. 26.

Saudi Arabia: Oil Prices Fall As Saudi King Eases Succession Fears

Oil prices fell Jan. 26 after new Saudi Arabian King Salman announced he would retain Ali al-Naimi as the country's oil minister, Reuters reported.


Annual Forecast 2015

Oil markets, economic stagnation in China and Europe, and Russia's struggle to maintain a buffer zone in its periphery will drive global events in 2015.