monte paschiThe Monte dei Paschi bank headquarters is pictured in Siena August 16, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

As a new year begins, we look at a key forecast that will bridge 2016 and 2017: the Italian banking crisis. In Geopolitical Futures’ 2016 forecast, we said that the focal point of Europe’s financial crisis would shift from Greece to the Italian banking system. For 2017, we forecast that the evolution of this crisis will eventually force a confrontation between Italy, Germany, and the European Union. Here, we establish a starting point for the looming Italian banking crisis in 2017, which will unfold over many months and have a range of consequences.

US Refusing to Intervene as Ex-CIA Agent Faces Extradition, Prison in Italy

by John Rossomando

former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa. Photo: Alchetron.

Time continues to tick away for former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa, who faces extradition from Portugal to Italy on Tuesday to face a four-year jail sentence for her involvement in the highly classified Bush-era rendition of a radical Muslim cleric known as Abu Omar.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has been aggressively advocating on her behalf.

An Italian court convicted de Sousa in absentia in 2009 for allegedly planning the operation. None of the defendants were informed of the charges against them by their Italian court-appointed lawyers.

Syria, Russia and Turkey – the uneasy alliance reshaping world politics7

The end of the Aleppo crisis and Syrian ceasefire has produced an unlikely alliance. The relationship between Russia, Turkey and Syria is pivotal not only for the Middle East but also for global geopolitics.

The leaders of all three countries – Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad – rose to prominence unexpectedly at around the same time, accompanied by a level of optimism. But over the past 16 years, they have joined the growing club of populist and authoritarian leaders.

Vladimir Putin first became president of Russia in 2000 – young, energetic and promising to raise Russia from the ashes of the failed Soviet Union.

Erdogan rose to prominence in 2003 after a major economic crisis catapulted him to Turkey’s prime ministership, carrying with him the hopes of the Turkish people. His first two terms of government were marked by attempts to join European Union, liberal reforms and economic growth.

Israel opens first ever NATO office

IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Golan assisted in opening Israel’s first office at NATO headquarters in Brussels; met with heads of Turkish, Arab militaries on sidelines; official meeting highest level meeting ever between Israel, NATO.
IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Yair Golan was in Brussels for the official opening of the Israeli office at NATO headquarters after it was decided that the two sides should have a closer working relationship. Roni Leshno Yaar, who submitted his credentials to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, is the first Israeli representative to NATO since the Jewish state was accepted as a partner to the organization (not a member). 

In a joint meeting between the ambassador, Maj. Gen. Golan, and NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, the Deputy Secretary said “here in NATO, we understand that Israel shares our values, and is an active and beneficial partner for Mediterranean dialogue.”

The meeting was an impressive show of support for Israel, with Maj. Gen. Golan being the highest-ranking Israeli official to meet with NATO representatives.,7340,L-4909988,00.html

650-mile trench stakes out claim for bigger Kurdish territory in Iraq

Line stretching along northern Iraq symbolises hopes for more land when fighting against Isis ends

A trench near the Christian town of Bartella marks the extent of Kurdish military control in northern Iraq.
A trench near the Christian town of Bartella marks the extent of Kurdish military control in northern Iraq. Photograph: Cengiz Yar