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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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China: Party Officials Involved In Tibet Movement, Beijing Says

Chinese authorities have accused 15 Tibet-based Communist Party of China officials of being involved in underground Tibetan separatist groups, according to a party spokesman, CBS reported.

Sudan: Rebels Abduct 6 U.N. Workers

Rebels with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N) detained six Bulgarians working for the United Nations on Jan. 26 after their U.N.-marked helicopter made an unexpected landing, the U.N. World Food Program said, AFP reported Jan. 28.

Mali: Suicide Attack Kills At Least 5

A suicide attack in the disputed Malian town of Tabankort killed at least five and as many as 13 people, Tuareg rebel sources said Jan. 28, World Bulletin reported.

Israel: Military Confirms Deaths Of 2 Soldiers

Two Israeli soldiers and a U.N. peacekeeper from Spain were killed in a cross-border missile attack by Hezbollah in Shebba Farms on Jan. 28, Reuters reported.

Jordan: Government Ready For Prisoner Exchange With Islamic State

Jordan will hand over a woman convicted of a botched suicide bombing in 2005 in exchange for the Jordanian pilot held hostage by the Islamic State, Reuters reported Jan. 28, citing a Jordanian government spokesman.

Lebanon: Hezbollah Retaliates Against Israel

The Lebanese militant group wants to avoid a full-on fight with Israel, but Israel might not be on the same page.

Lebanon: Israel Fires Shells After Hezbollah Attack

Israel has fired 30 shells into southern Lebanon in response to a Hezbollah attack on an Israeli military convoy that killed four Israeli soldiers, The Daily Star reported Jan. 28.

Ukraine: U.S. May Give $3 Billion Loan-Guarantee

The United States may offer Ukraine a $3 billion loan-guarantee package in 2015 if Ukraine continues reforms, pending approval from the U.S. Congress, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 28.

EU: No Decision On Russian Sanctions

The EU Foreign Affairs Council will prepare proposals for sanctions on Russia Jan. 29 but will not decide until February 9, New Europe reported Jan. 28, citing Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics.

Russia: Gazprom To Keep 30 Percent In Europe Gas Market

Gazprom’s share in Europe’s natural gas market will remain at 30 percent in 2015, Reuters reported Jan. 28, citing Gazprom board chairman Viktor Zubkov.

India: Districts On Swine Flu Alert

Seven districts in Maharashtra are on high alert in light of the swine flu outbreak in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, a state health official said, Times of India reported Jan. 28.

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.

Forecasts

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.