As of mid-March 2012, the question in the eyes of keen Hamas-watchers is: Will the group split into two, one in Gaza, and another in the West Bank and beyond? This is a very real question in light of the ongoing air strikes in Gaza and the resulting calls for escalation by the Gaza wing of Hamas, and at the same time the relocation of other parts of the group from Syria -- and the negative impact this has had on support both from Syria and Iran, formerly prime allies and influencers...
The U.S.-led effort to chart a course toward a peaceful future in Afghanistan has been shaken by two recent events. First, the news on February 21st that U.S. military forces had burned Korans at Bagram Air Base led to several days of violent protest outside several U.S. military installations across the nation. Second, on March 11th, a U.S. soldier left his post in southern Afghanistan, forced his way into several homes, and shot a number of local civilians, killing as many as 16 according to latest reports...
As of early March 2012, Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was solidifying both his personal and office's control over Iranian politics, at the expense of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the office of the presidency as a whole. This most recent reorientation of power around his office, seen most clearly in the preliminary results of the 02 March 2012 parliamentary elections in which loyalists to Khamenei dominated over those who identified with Ahmadinejad, should be viewed as a continuation of a characteristic of Khamenei that dates from the 1980s, a characteristic that has a profound effect on on-going and future efforts by Western governments to deal with Iran...
Violence and tragedy have been part of the sport of soccer for decades, as seemingly inescapable as it is unfortunate. Whether it involves stampeding crowds that literally crush fellow fans underfoot in South America or the brazen hooliganism commonly seen in Western Europe, violence has arguably become an intractable element of the sport over the last fifty years. Other sporting events around the world have experienced a similar escalation in violence, both in frequency and in ferocity. In sum, fan violence has literally become an epidemic problem for all sports on a global level.
There are two strategic - and interconnected - drivers that define the trajectory of Chinese policy: energy security and unemployment. China's economy now consumes more oil than either Europe or the U.S., and 50% of that oil is imported from the Middle East and North Africa (by comparison, the U.S. imports 25% of its current requirements). If crude oil stays at or near its current price levels, then China will be spending more on oil than it earns in export revenues to the U.S., a turn of events that could force higher levels of unemployment and social discontent...