Articles

What do lower oil prices mean for Latin America's energy potential in 2015 and beyond? Read five scenarios.

The decline of the global benchmark oil price from around $100 per barrel to under $50 per barrel over the last six months has jolted oil producing and consuming countries throughout the world, including in Latin America. During the last two decades' commodities boom, oil and gas development was seen as one of the most exciting elements of Latin America's economic rise. But is the region's economic ascent at risk because of the current low price cycle? Or will the benefits of lower energy costs for industrial and residential consumers provide an economic boost?

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President Barack Obama gave up a day of sightseeing in India to meet the new king and crown princes of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, an acknowledgement that the U.S. still highly values its 70-year-old relationship with the oil-rich monarchy.

But despite the show of friendship, tectonic plates are shifting in the region and the U.S. now has more options than relying on a country that -- despite modest reforms under the late King Abdullah and close security ties with Washington -- is still a prime source of the radical intolerance that inspires many anti-Western terrorist groups.

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Five years ago, significant deposits of natural gas were discovered off the coast of Israel, followed in 2011 by a minor natural gas discovery offshore of neighboring Cyprus. These discoveries have catalyzed explorations in the greater Eastern Mediterranean region generating expectations of enhanced regional energy security and economic and environmental payoffs, benefits Israel has already begun to reap with the Tamar gas field, which began operating in 2013. In the past year, Israel, with the help of the United States, and energy investors have made progress in negotiating initial agreements for gas supplies to Israel’s neighbors. These agreements could contribute to regional prosperity.

In December, however, an anti-trust challenge arose in Israel that may delay the development of the Leviathan gas field, the largest in the region; delay progress on proposed gas supply projects from Israel to its neighbors, including Jordan and Egypt; and threaten the security of Israel’s supply. This anti-trust challenge is ill-founded.

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Two developments this week linked to the long-running conflict between Israel and Iran are likely to generate even more violence and uncertainty at a time when threats are already multiplying from Sunni Muslim extremists.

On Sunday, a helicopter gunship operating in Syria near the border with Israel killed the son of Hezbollah's former military commander, an Iranian general and five other members of Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group long supported by Iran.

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Bottom Line Up Front: 
• Boko Haram continues to terrorize northeastern Nigeria; the group has been responsible for the deaths of more than 10,000 Nigerians last year, and according to some Nigerian officials, the group currently controls as much as 70 percent of Borno as well as parts of neighboring states—an area close to the size of West Virginia

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THE UNITED STATES has a major opportunity this month to return to a close security and economic partnership with India — a priority of the last three American presidents. The new Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, signaled he wants to get beyond the problem-ridden last few years between Delhi and Washington by inviting President Obama to be the "chief guest" at India's elaborate Republic Day celebrations on Jan. 26. This simple but important symbolic gesture may kickstart the revival both countries have been looking for.

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It went all but unnoticed, but in another milestone of its growing global role, in 2014 China surpassed the US as the world's largest importer of oil. As the US and China struggle to define what a "new model of major power relationship" actually means, one measure of it would be for the world's two largest powers to increase cooperation to strengthen the global order.

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In the aftermath of last week's tragic events in France, the world has witnessed great demonstrations of solidarity.

Judging from the more than one million people who gathered in Paris - and others in smaller rallies in Europe and in Washington, D.C. -- the murder of 17 journalists, police and shoppers in a Jewish market by three terrorists claiming to be avenging insults to Islam has brought together ordinary people from many religions and ethnic groups in an emphatic rejection of violence and intolerance.

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Economics Have Stalled Putin, But He Often Answers Reversals with Military Threats


In the Ukraine crisis, soft economic power last month trumped hard military power for the first time. The threatened meltdown of the Russian economy could push Russian President Vladimir Putin to dial down his undeclared war on Ukraine in return for some easing of Western financial sanctions. Still, that is not assured.

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No one is yet talking about victory in the war against the vicious group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS).

Today's shocking attack in Paris underlines the threat that terrorist fanatics pose to civilized society everywhere.

But on the battlefronts of Iraq, IS has lost its edge. Iraqi Kurdish forces, backed by U.S. airpower, have now retaken virtually all the territory they lost to the group over the summer, according to Falah Mustafa Bakir, head of the department of foreign relations for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

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