from The Great Debate:

Iran transformed Syria’s army into a militia that will help Assad survive another year

By David Axe
December 17, 2014

A man inspects a damaged site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs thrown by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on al-Ghariya, in the east of Deraa province

In early 2015, the civil war in Syria will turn four years old. If current trends hold, the terrible conflict -- which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions -- will almost certainly continue to rage through the end of the year. That's my prediction.

from The Great Debate:

It’s a weird war when Iran and the U.S. are bombing the same country

By Michael Williams
December 10, 2014

A Syrian Air Force fighter plane fires rockets during an air strike in the village of Tel Rafat

The McDonnell Douglas' F4 Phantom was a workhorse of the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. It was retired from the USAF and the British Royal Air Force some 20 years ago. But the vintage fighter-bomber put in a surprise performance a few days ago over the skies of northern Iraq.

from MacroScope:

Governments teetering

By Mike Peacock
December 3, 2014

Sweden's PM Lofven speaks at a news conference in Stockholm

Sweden's centre-left administration is on the brink just two months into office after a far-right party announced it would side with the centre-right opposition to vote against the 2015 budget. The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, who are shunned by all other parties in the Riksdag, holds the balance of power.

from MacroScope:

To spend or save?

By Mike Peacock
December 2, 2014

French Economy Minister Macron and Germany's Economy Minister Gabriel arrive to attend a news conference to present the Franco-German report on economic reforms and investment in Paris

Germany’s finance and economy ministers and central bank chiefs meet in Berlin with plenty to discuss.

from The Great Debate:

What’s behind the effort to make Israel, the ‘Jewish State,’ more ‘Jewish’

By Matt Duss
December 2, 2014

Israel's PM Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media in Jerusalem

With the myriad challenges the Israeli government currently faces – regional turmoil, unrest in Jerusalem, and opposition to a highly contentious budget -- this might seem like an interesting time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promulgate a new law defining Israel’s identity as “the nation state of the Jewish people.” The bill, which was supposed to have been voted on this Wednesday but has now been delayed, would recognize Jewish religious law as an inspiration for legislation, and affirm that, “The right to the fulfillment of national self-determination within the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

from The Great Debate:

Can you live a moral life in the holy city of Jerusalem?

By Amy Wilentz
November 24, 2014

A man holds an Israeli flag during a mass prayer for soldiers and civilians at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City

While you are reading about violent attacks in Jerusalem on the home page of your newspaper, Jerusalemites are living their lives, most of the time, as if they dwelled in a happy little European nation, say Luxembourg or the Netherlands… or suburban New Jersey. That’s how you can feel there a lot of the time, if you live on the Israeli side. That is assuming you’re not a crazed extremist of some kind.

from John Lloyd:

The problem(s) with Israel

By John Lloyd
November 20, 2014

Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Jews carry the body of Rabbi Mosheh Twersky onto a vehicle during his funeral in Jerusalem

Israel had grown accustomed to an absence of terrorist attacks in its cities: so the bloody murder of four worshippers and wounding of eight more at a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday was a shock. It illuminates the fragile, fractious state of the country, including the fact that the cabinet is riven, and may collapse soon.

from MacroScope:

Will Germany’s Q4 get any better?

By Mike Peacock
November 18, 2014

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange

Germany’s ZEW index will give an indication of whether the fourth quarter will be any better for Europe’s largest economy after it barely escaped recession in Q3. In October, the index dropped to its lowest level in nearly two years.

from The Great Debate:

A one-state solution: Israel’s settlements aren’t going away

By Dimi Reider
November 13, 2014

Jewish youth hold Israeli flags at the beginning of a rally march in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near Nablus

Bursts of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, once the subject of intense news coverage, have become almost routine.

from The Great Debate:

Why Palestinians are back fighting on Jerusalem’s streets

By Rashid I. Khalidi
November 13, 2014

Palestinian youths throw stones towards Israeli border police during clashes at a checkpoint between the Shuafat refugee camp and Jerusalem

Once again, widespread popular unrest has broken out in Jerusalem. Since July, there have been clashes between young Arabs and Israeli security forces using tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition and truncheons.