The Saudis Are Stumbling. They May Take the Middle East with Them.

America’s leading Sunni ally is proving how easily hubris, delusion, and old-fashioned ineptitude can trump even bottomless wealth

By Conn Hallinan

For the past eight decades Saudi Arabia has been careful.

Using its vast oil wealth, it’s quietly spread its ultra-conservative brand of Islam throughout the Muslim world, secretly undermined secular regimes in its region, and prudently kept to the shadows while others did the fighting and dying. It was Saudi money that fueled the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, underwrote Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran, and bankrolled Islamic movements and terrorist groups from the Caucasus to the Hindu Kush.

It wasn’t a modest foreign policy, but it was a discreet one.

Today that circumspect diplomacy is in ruins, and the House of Saud looks more vulnerable than it has since the country was founded in 1926. Unraveling the reasons for the current train wreck is a study in how easily hubris, delusion, and old-fashioned ineptness can trump even bottomless wealth.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://www.thenation.com/article/the-saudis-are-stumbling-they-may-take-the-middle-east-with-them/

Chinese firm takes control of Gwadar Port free-trade zone in Pakistan

Gulf gateway key to plans to ship oil overland to inland provinces

By Summer Zhen

A Chinese firm officially took control of Pakistan’s Gwadar Port free-trade zone on Wednesday, further cementing its role in the Gwader area, a gateway to oil-exporting Gulf countries, and analysts see the deal as a chance for China to change the oil import game.

Under the agreement, state-backed Chinese Overseas Ports will manage the free-trade zone on a 43-year lease. The formal handover signals the Chinese side’s control of all the port’s business affairs.

Gwadar port is a deep sea port that sits next to the Strait of Hormuz, the key oil route in and out of the Persian Gulf and it lies only 120km from the Iranian border.

As part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor scheme, China plans to make Gwadar a transportation hub by building a 3,000km railway linking Xinjiang, in western China, with Gwadar.

Read more » South China Morning Post
See more » http://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/1877882/chinese-firm-takes-control-gwadar-port-free-trade-zone-pakistan

France announces Raqqa air strikes on ISIS – CNN

French jets bomb Syria in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa

By Tim Lister and Nick Paton Walsh, CNN

(CNN) French fighter jets bombed a series of ISIS sites in Raqqa, Syria, on Sunday in what officials described as a major bombardment.

The targets included a command center, a recruitment center, an ammunition storage base and a training camp for the terror group, said Mickael Soria, press adviser for France’s defense minister.

ISIS claims Raqqa as the capital of its so-called caliphate. The airstrikes come two days after a series of terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which France’s President described as “an act of war.”

Twelve aircraft, including 10 fighter jets, were involved in Sunday’s airstrikes, Soria said.

Read more » CNN
See more » http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/15/middleeast/france-announces-raqqa-airstrikes-on-isis/index.html

Bernie Sanders Is Really Not Impressed With Hillary Clinton’s Plan For Wall Street

This is the moment when things got heated.

By Associate Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was not impressed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s plan to regulate Wall Street.

“I’ve laid out a very aggressive plan to rein in Wall Street, not just the big banks; that’s a part of the problem and I am going right at them, I’ve got a tough plan,” Clinton said, going on to explain how the government needed to regulate the “shadow banking industry” such as hedge funds, insurance companies and investment banks.

Read more » The Huffington Post
See more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-wall-street_5647f6cee4b08cda34892850?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013&section=politics