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Stratfor looks at the strange Saudi – Israel alliance

Stratfor: There was a time when Saudi Arabia considered its enmity for Israel to be a mainstay of its power. But the shifting tides of geopolitics are steadily undercutting the value of conflict between the two. Perhaps nowhere is this change clearer than in an appearance last week by Israeli defense chief Gadi Eisenkot on a Saudi-owned TV station. During the Nov. 16 interview, Eisenkot declared Israel’s readiness to share intelligence with Saudi Arabia on Iran. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz later reinforced his colleague’s comment, confirming that Israel’s ties with the kingdom were getting stronger...

Fear of Iran has certainly pulled the longtime adversaries closer together over the past few years, but it doesn’t explain Israeli officials’ recent decision to go public with their cooperation. The two countries have historically kept their efforts to counter Iran under wraps. Moreover, in the near term Saudi Arabia and Israel will not commit to joint military action or establish bases in each other’s territory — actions that would require a visible rapprochement. Instead the perks of publicity have more to do with domestic audiences, regional legitimacy and international influence.

For Saudi Arabia, an overt relationship with Israel serves as a bellwether of the population’s willingness to change. Such flexibility will be necessary as the crown prince embarks on a sweeping reform program and attempts to change the perception of the kingdom in the halls of the U.S. Congress and in the headlines of American newspapers. Notably, none of the recent revelations of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel generated much backlash from either country’s populace.

The relatively calm response was particularly revealing to bin Salman, who hopes to gauge the attitudes and opinions of the kingdom’s large generation of youths. By doing so, he can tease out whether the country’s Wahhabi clerical establishment has the popular support needed to resist him and identify potential troublemakers who speak out against his policies. At the same time, the crown prince can refine and test his security services, who will be tasked with finding any dissidents.

A public relationship with a formidable military power like Israel would also help supplement Saudi Arabia’s green forces on the battlefield in Yemen, giving Iran pause as it considers its next move there. Defense cooperation could begin with intelligence sharing on Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a longtime enemy of Israel that Saudi Arabia has accused of training Houthi militants in Yemen. Collaboration may even extend to joint training, maneuvers and interdictions of supplies from Iran to its regional allies that transit the Red Sea.

As an added perk, the crown prince can broadcast to the United States — still a key Saudi ally — that he is not an anti-Semite, buying himself some diplomatic cover from the growing international criticism of his war in Yemen. Weapons and advanced equipment that the United States currently denies the kingdom, such as the F-35 fighter jet, could even be made available if it becomes clear that Riyadh does not intend to use them against Israel >>>

Who defeated Roy Moore?

Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Esquire: Black women get shit done, but we’ve always known that. We’ve raised your kids and taught in your schools and prayed for your healing. We are the most reliable force in this increasingly frustrating country, and it is because of our strength and resilience in the face of systemic adversity that we are often ignored, or, worse temporarily utilized to redeem the future of America. White progressives take our sanity and reason for granted when they no longer find a use for our ballots after election day.

But after Democrat Doug Jones’s historic win in Alabama last night, black women must no longer be ignored. Exit polls show 17 percent of Alabama voters were black women and 98 percent of them voted for Jones. If we truly want to steer this country toward progress, we must support, understand, listen to, and grow the voice of the party’s most collectively reliable voters: Black women >>>

Amazon forest

Cartoon by V.C. Rogers

Reuters: Inc said on Tuesday it was expanding its cloud computing business in China with a new local partner, aiming to win share in an increasingly crowded and highly regulated market.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) will start offering customer services based out of the northwestern Chinese region of Ningxia in partnership with local firm Ningxia Western Cloud Data Technology Co Ltd (NWCD), the U.S. firm said.

"AWS has formed a strategic technology collaboration with NWCD, and NWCD operates and provides services from the AWS China Ningxia Region, in full compliance with Chinese regulations," Amazon said in a statement.

The move comes a month after AWS said it will sell the hardware assets of its Beijing-registered cloud unit for up to 2 billion yuan ($302.06 million) to its partner Beijing Sinnet Technology Co Ltd to comply with new regulations.

China launched strict new regulations in June that require foreign firms to store data locally and outsource hardware elements to local partners.
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Cloud services have become a crowded and competitive field in China in recent years, with domestic companies, including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, opening dozens of new data centers in just the past year.

Chinese firms account for roughly 80 percent of total cloud services revenue in China, according to Synergy Research Group >>>


Cartoon by Robert Ariail

War on the Rocks: "... global terrorist attacks rose dramatically after 2004: There were just over 1,000 in 2004, but almost 17,000 in 2014. The numbers from 2015 and 2016 (not shown) have remained remarkably high, but below the 2014 peak. The upward pattern holds even when removing attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is tempting to surmise from the strong trend upwards in Figure 1 that terrorism is on the rise and that the threat is expanding worldwide. The absolute numbers are, after all, higher in the past few years than they were a decade ago. However, this is only part of the story. More than 70 percent of the attacks in the past 10 years transpired in just two regions, both of which have seen extensive insurgency and civil conflict during that time: North Africa/Middle East and South-Central Asia.

It is no secret that most terrorism transpires in the context of insurgency, but to equate the two phenomena is misleading and inaccurate >>>

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