Tensions between two regional rivals are at a nadir following. There are big implications here for the prospect of the peace process in Syria. “ Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday and gave all Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the kingdom, as escalating tensions over the execution of an outspoken Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia marked a new low in relations between the two Middle Eastern powers. The surprise move, announced in a televised news conference by Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, followed harsh criticism by Iranian leaders of the Saudis’ execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran by protesters in response.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/1O4H8GL)

And the CAR Presidential Race Frontrunner Is…Former prime minister Faustin Archange Touadera took a commanding lead in the Central African Republic’s presidential race on Sunday, garnering more than 23 percent of the vote with a quarter of the ballots counted, electoral officials said.Touadera, a 58-year-old former maths professor who was prime minister under longtime leader Francois Bozize from 2008 to 2013, was considered an outsider in the field of 30 candidates vying in an election seeking to turn the page on years of unrest.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/1O4IgtZ)

Quote of the Weekend...“The United States is deeply disappointed that President Paul Kagame has announced his intention to run for a third term in office,” —  State Dept Spox John Kirby, on Saturday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1R62EAO)



The U.S. government has shut down its drone operation base in southern Ethiopia, an embassy official announced. (AP http://yhoo.it/1JnNJ24)

A senior Sudanese opposition figure said on Sunday her party has been invited to meet government officials this month to discuss a national dialogue aimed at resolving multiple crises. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JnOate)

Tanzania President John Magufuli’s newly appointed permanent secretaries have signed a “beefed up” integrity commitment document as part of a move to ensure seriousness towards rooting out graft and injecting accountability among public sector workers, according to government spokesman Assah Mwambene. (VOA http://bit.ly/1kDxNx4)

Somali terror group, al-Shabab, has used clips of US presidential candidate Donald Trump in its propaganda film. Trump courted controversy in December when he demanded that all Muslims be barred from entering the US. (DW http://bit.ly/1VzNFOF)

Africans are getting in on AirBnB (CSM http://bit.ly/1O4J81w)


Yemeni government forces clashed Sunday with militant groups for control over the strategic Port of Aden in the southern city with the same name, Yemeni government officials said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1kDwVZ7)

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply dismayed” by Saudi Arabia’s execution of 47 people including a prominent Shiite cleric, whose death sparked violent protests in Iran, a spokesman said Saturday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1kDwWMQ)


A strong 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck northeast India near the country’s borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh early Monday.It’s too early to assess damage. But casualties are likely. (AFP http://bit.ly/1R62w43)

Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers said Sunday that they will press the government for answers after a fifth employee of a publishing company specializing in books critical of mainland China’s leadership went missing. (AP http://yhoo.it/1kDtvpe)

Security forces in India battled into Sunday evening to secure an air base near the border with Pakistan, a day after a militant attack that has killed seven military personnel and wounded another 20. (AFP http://reut.rs/1O4IDV6)

More than 150,000 Hindu hardliners, all dressed in khaki shorts, white shirts and black hats, put on a massive show of strength at an elaborate rally in western India on Sunday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1kDtvFL)

Up to 100,000 people still living in camps six years after the end of Sri Lanka’s brutal ethnic war will be given land to build homes within six months, President Maithripala Sirisena told AFP Sunday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JnNHr6)

The Americas

Honduras’ government says it has received a request from the United States for the extradition of former vice president and businessman Jaime Rosenthal, who is accused of money laundering. (AP http://yhoo.it/1kDmNQn)

A commission probing Haiti’s disputed presidential election reported Sunday that a first-round vote was plagued by irregularities, but indicated a final run-off can take place as scheduled in two weeks. (AP http://yhoo.it/1R5Vw7i)

Three people, including a minor, were being held Sunday in connection with the slaying of the newly inaugurated mayor of Temixco, a gang-troubled city in central Mexico’s Morelos state. (USA Today http://usat.ly/1O4Irp2)

Uruguay’s congress has approved an $872 million aid package for the country’s debt-ridden state oil company. (AP http://yhoo.it/1kDxL8l)

Panama’s expansion of its century-old canal, which has suffered costly overruns and major delays, is now to be complete “around the month of May,” President Juan Carlos Varela said Saturday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JnNHHD)

…and the rest

The governor of Bavaria in Germany wants to limit the number of refugees the country takes in each year to 200,000 and says the United States is partly to blame for the crisis. (AP http://yhoo.it/1JnMGiQ)

David Cameron must do more to alleviate the global refugee crisis in 2016 after the government’s “clearly inadequate” response last year, the heads of more than two dozen aid agencies and charities have said in a letter to Downing Street. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1MOzazz)

Greece’s coast guard says 217 migrants have been rescued by authorities since the start of the new year in four separate incidents. (AP http://yhoo.it/1kDxLFx)

Britain’s government has promised more than 40 million pounds to rebuild and improve the country’s flood defenses that failed to protect thousands of homes over the Christmas holidays. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1JnNEvf)

Italian health authorities on Sunday ordered investigations after five women died in childbirth in seven days, shocking a nation with one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1O4PVIz)


Refugee crisis could shake up German political landscape in 2016 (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MOyE4D)

How Uganda Came To Earn High Marks For Quality Of Death (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1kDwXjI)

47 executions: Riyadh sends an aggressive signal (The Interpreter http://bit.ly/1VzR93t)

Africa: Top 10 Predictions for 2016 (Development Diaries http://bit.ly/1VzRSBY)

Thoughts on the Uhuru Kenyatta Administration in 2016 (Africanist Perspective http://bit.ly/1OFdr4B)

What Will Be the Big Story of 2016? (Foreign Policy http://atfp.co/1OFdWvx)

Five Poverty Busters You Should Know (Christianty Today http://bit.ly/1OFdMUK)

Comic: Randomized Control Trials (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal http://bit.ly/1kDz7Qk)

What Happens When A Disaster Unfolds In Slow Motion (NPR http://n.pr/1VzRXWj)

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