IRAQ: Bombings in Baghdad today have killed at least 37, and gunmen killed the top security guard for President Jalal Talabani on Tuesday night in Sulaymania, a city in the country’s Kurdish north where targeted killings are rare. This is now part of a broader trend, according to a report in The New York Times:
“The bloodletting has taken on broader regional overtones, with Shiite backers of Mr. Assad—notably Iran and its ally, the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah—drawn into the conflict while militant Sunnis, some linked to Al Qaeda, have flocked to the rebel cause in Syria, declaring jihad, or holy war, against their enemies.”
LEBANON: The prevailing concern in Lebanon after the Iranian Embassy bombing yesterday is that Lebanon may have entered the first stage of being “Iraqized.” The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an offshoot of al-Qaeda operating in Lebanon, claimed responsibility for the bombings, which killed at least 23 people.
IRAN: Another round of talks are underway in Geneva with Iran, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini is setting some red lines of his own when it comes to continuing uranium enrichment.
SUDAN: Smith College professor Eric Reeves is one of the best analysts around when it comes to unpacking war in Sudan and South Sudan. But he’s also an amazing woodturner, turns out, and is turning his craft into a way to help Sudanese children this Christmas.
AFGHANISTAN: U.S. officials and Afghan leaders will meet again tomorrow toward drafting a security agreement designed to carry forward the country’s security beyond a 2014 U.S. pullout. One sticking point: President Hamid Karzai would like President Barack Obama to apologize to the Afghan people in writing for mistakes made during the 12-year war. Most bets say he will blame Republicans in Congress.
CHINA: Officials in China say they will move—slowly—to one-child policy reform announced last week that will allow some families to have more than one child without penalty. One stick in the gears: an entitled bureaucracy at the country’s family-planning commission composed of 500,000 full-time workers and 6 million part-time monitors down to the village level.
Here’s a helpful summary of key economic reforms (and the crisis behind them) announced after China’s Third Plenary.
UAE: Author and pastor John Piper discovers that Dubai may be a more wholesome place to raise a family than, say, Sweden.