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Kamran Bokhari on the Islamic State and the Shifting Middle East Landscape

"Iran’s trajectory is going up, and the Saudis are in trouble," says Kamran Bokhari, an adviser on Mideast affairs to the U.S.-based global intelligence company Stratfor. "The kingdom has major problems. It is in a multi-front struggle against Iran, the Shiites, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State."

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Reva Bhalla on Putin's Message to the International Community

Stratfor's vice president of global analysis joined Bloomberg TV's "Bottom Line" for a discussion on Russia's mounting economic pressures, as well as other key geopolitical trends around the globe including U.S. nuclear talks with Iran and ECB President Mario Draghi's stimulus plan.

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Iraq: U.S. Denies Ground Forces Involved In Fighting

The U.S. Pentagon denied that U.S. ground troops were taking part in the fight against the Islamic State, Shafaq reported Dec. 19.

Venezuela: U.S. Imposes Sanctions On Officials

U.S. President Barack Obama signed legislation Dec. 18 that will freeze the assets and bar the visa applications of Venezuelan officials involved in crackdowns on demonstrators in Caracas and around Venezuela earlier in 2014, Reuters reported.

U.S.: Fight Against Militants Will Take Years, General Says

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. James Terry said Dec. 18 that he thought it would take a minimum of three years to achieve a turning point against the Islamic State, Reuters reported.

Belarus: President Orders Switch To Dollar, Euro In Trade With Russia

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has ordered his government to switch to U.S. dollars and euros when trading with Russia, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty reported Dec. 18.

Somalia: Citing Ebola Fears, Government Bars Sierra Leone Peacekeepers

Somalia has refused the redeployment of Sierra Leone peacekeeping troops because of fears surrounding the Ebola virus, Bar Kulan reported Dec. 18.

Ukraine, Russia: EU Bans Investment In Crimea

The European Union banned investment in the disputed territory of Crimea on Dec. 18, outlawing investment in Russian oil and gas exploration in the Black Sea and prohibiting European cruise ships to dock at Crimean ports, Reuters reported.

Nigeria: Boko Haram Abducts Hundreds

Boko Haram militants have reportedly abducted around 200 people, including several women, in Borno state, World Bulletin reported Dec. 18.

U.K.: EU Rules On Immigration Case

The European Court of Justice ruled that British citizens should be allowed to bring family members who are not EU citizens into the United Kingdom without a travel visa, as long as they are residents of another EU country, Sky News reported Dec. 18.

Nigeria: Soldiers Sentenced To Death For Mutiny

A Nigerian military court found 54 soldiers guilty of mutiny Dec. 17 and sentenced them to death, Premium Times reported.

Iraq: Kurds Near Economic Self-Sufficiency, Official Says

A rise in oil exports is enabling the Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, to near a point of economic self-sufficiency, Reuters reported Dec. 17.

Colombia: FARC Declares Unilateral Cease-Fire

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia announced an indefinite unilateral cease-fire to begin on Dec. 20, El Pais reported, citing unconfirmed reports on social media.

Russia: Putin Not Out Of Touch, Press Secretary Says

Russian President Vladimir Putin feels the pain the ruble's recent drop has caused for the average citizen but believes that his approval ratings are not directly tied to the currency's value, his spokesman said Dec. 17, Itar-Tass reported.

France: Russian Marines To Leave Saint-Nazaire Soon

The 400 Russian marines in Saint-Nazaire, France, awaiting the delivery of the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship will leave by the Christmas holidays, Les Echos reported Dec. 17.

Cuba: U.S. President Gives Address On Enhancing Relations

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro gave simultaneous addresses Dec. 17 to announce new moves toward enhanced relations between the two countries.

Syria: Mass Grave Discovered In Eastern Province

The bodies of some 230 people believed to be from the Al-Sheitaat tribe were discovered in a mass grave in Syria's Deir el-Zour province, The Daily Star reported Dec. 17.

Somalia: President Nominates New Prime Minister

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud nominated Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke as the country's next prime minister Dec. 17, Africa Review reported.

Iraq: Kurdish Peshmerga Forces Make Gains Near Border

Kurdish peshmerga forces retook seven towns near Zumar, Iraq, from the Islamic State on Dec. 17, Rudaw News reported.

Pakistan, Afghanistan: Military Leaders Meet Following Attack

Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif will meet with top Afghan military and political leaders to discuss a possible joint military operation against Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, the group responsible for the deadly attack on a school in Peshawar, Dawn reported.

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