The claim that the U.S.-China relationship will be the 21st century’s most important has become a cliché repeated at policy gatherings in Washington and Beijing. It also happens to be the truth. For better or worse, the trajectory of that relationship will be established firmly before the next U.S. president takes the oath of office.
Rebel forces fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army and various Islamist militias have achieved significant gains since the launch of the armed effort to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in July 2011. The rebels are steadily consolidating their control in rural areas, and, if the current trend continues, the remaining government troops in the northern half of the country could find themselves completely cut off from Damascus and western coastal areas within the next six months.
Public support for the governing Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has rebounded a bit since mid-2012, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s party will have to boost its numbers further before it can be confident of winning another majority at an election required by October 2015. In that regard, the CPC is unlikely to repeat its uncharacteristically strong 2011 performance in the Atlantic provinces, where support for the Tories has dropped especially sharply since the general election, and has remained stuck at a low level even as the party’s national standing has recently improved.
Prior to the 1990s, it was acceptable for business and technical professionals not to fully understand the workings of intellectual property (IP). In fact, IP was largely viewed as an isolated topic for legal or research and development departments to handle. In turn, many innovative and high-tech firms didn’t even file for patents. However, due to the “patent wars,” this has changed.
Mali’s risks remain heightened as its conflict continues to evolve. French-led international military intervention since 11 January has successfully repelled rebel forces to the more remote northern regions. Yet the country remains vulnerable to reprisals from both secular Tuareg separatist fighters and Islamist guerrillas linked to Al-Qaeda, which have regrouped among the safety of the Tegharghar Mountains in the Saharan north-east.
Government financial support for corporate facility investment and expansion continues to be a common practice in most parts of the world. For the right project, economic development agencies in many parts of North America and Asia can be remarkably flexible and creative in structuring an attractive incentives package.
The fragile three-party coalition government formed after two parliamentary elections held last year failed to produce a decisive winner. And the unwillingness of some coalition lawmakers to back various elements of a harsh austerity program dictated by the EU and the IMF has reduced the government’s majority in the 300-member Parliament from 179 seats to just 164.
Libya’s first democratically elected government officially took office in early November, with the swearing-in of 20 Cabinet ministers appointed by Prime Minister Ali Zidan. The prime minister took care to include nominees favored by the main secular and Islamist blocs, the NFA and Justice and Construction, respectively, and also included figures from eastern Libya, an area that is currently buzzing with calls for significant regional autonomy.
Political tensions have continued to simmer in Baghdad, as the blocs representing Iraq’s Shiite and Sunni Arabs in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government maneuver for advantage within the National Assembly. At the same time, a protracted tug-of-war between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over control of Kurdistan’s oil wealth is heating up, as major oil investors are lining up to sign deals with the regional government, over the objections of officials at the Ministry of Oil.
An opposition motion to scrap an executive decision to allow foreign firms to own majority shares in retail enterprises was defeated by the lower house of the Parliament on December 2, 2012. Five days later the upper chamber did the same. In both cases, the opposition motion was defeated by a comfortable margin.
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