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Bitcoin Moves Closer to Regulation

The launch of the first regulated bitcoin exchange in the United States is another step toward the acceptance of cryptocurrencies by financial regulators.

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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

South Sudan: President Shows Up At Summit

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit made an appearance at a regional summit in Addis Ababa discussing the conflict in South Sudan, BBC reported Jan. 29.

Jordan: Government Needs Proof Of Life Before Exchange

The Jordanian government will not release prisoner Sajida al-Rishawi until the Islamic State provides evidence that Jordanian hostage Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh is alive, government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani said at a Jan. 29 press conference, Jordan Times reported.

Ukraine: Contact Group To Meet In Minsk

The contact group on the conflict in eastern Ukraine will gather in Minsk on Jan. 30, according to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, RFERL reported.

Azerbaijan: Armenian Drone Shot Down, Ministry Says

Azerbaijan has shot down an Armenian drone near the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh, according to Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry, Reuters reported Jan. 29.

Belarus: Minsk May Lean On Russian Aid If Needed

Belarus may restructure its debts this year and has agreed with Russia for as much as $500 million in aid if needed, Bloomberg reported Jan. 29, citing Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Israel: Leader Says Iran Behind Hezbollah Attack

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran was behind the Jan. 28 Hezbollah attack on an Israeli convoy in Shebaa Farms, a disputed area between Israel and Lebanon, Haaretz reported Jan. 29.

South Sudan: Leader Hospitalized Before Summit

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit has been hospitalized in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, delaying a regional summit to discuss the conflict in South Sudan, BBC reported Jan. 29.

Jordan: Islamic State Updates Deadline For Prisoner Swap

A new audio message purportedly from Japanese journalist Kenji Goto said the Islamic State would kill a Jordanian pilot if Jordan did not hand over an Iraqi woman convicted of a suicide bombing by sunset Jan. 29, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

United Kingdom: Russian Military Aircraft Intercepted

The British Royal Air Force scrambled fighter jets to intercept two Russian long-range bombers flying over the English Channel, close to British airspace, The Telegraph reported Jan. 29.

Israel: Hezbollah Message Says No Escalation

Israel received a message from the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon that Hezbollah does not intend to escalate violence, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, Reuters reported Jan. 29.

Central African Republic: Seleka Rebels, Anti-Balaka Movement Agree To Cease-Fire

The warring Seleka and Anti-Balaka rebel groups of the Central African Republic agreed to a cease-fire and cessation of hostilities Jan. 28, News24 reported.

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.


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.