TOP NEWS: Nat’l Security / Foreign Affairs: July 12, 2012
- Spain’s Leader Plans New Austerity Steps Amidst Strife
- Egyptian Leader’s Visit Sends Signal to Saudis
- Syria Says Defecting Ambassador Is Fired
- China’s economic slowdown spreads pain despite stimulus
- Afghan president Asks Taliban to relinquish weapons
Excerpts and more top stories
Raphael Minder and Steven Erlanger, NY Times – Only a month after being lionized for staring down European officials and avoiding budgetary dictates from Brussels, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy unveiled another package of unpopular austerity measures on Wednesday as the country’s miners staged a raucous and occasionally violent protest.
EUROZONE/SPAIN: Madrid Austerity Plan Boosted to $80 Billion
David Roman and Nicholas Winning, WSJ – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced new austerity measures Wednesday that should help Madrid cut its budget deficit by €65 billion ($80 billion) through to 2015, and warned the euro-zone’s fourth-largest economy may not grow at all next year.
EUROZONE: Euro-Zone Industry Shows Fight
Ilona Billington, WSJ – Industrial production in the euro zone rose in May as demand for a range of goods gained, while German output was the strongest since July last year, data from the European Union’s statistical agency Eurostat showed Thursday. However, the year-to-year drop was the biggest since December 2009 highlighting the continuing weakness of the sector and the economy as a whole amid the deepening debt crisis.
Ellen Knickmeyer and Matt Bradley, WSJ – Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi made the first foreign visit of his presidency to Saudi Arabia in what political observers called an apparent effort to offer assurances about his aims as the most visible symbol of the rise of political Islam in the region.
Rick Gladstone, NY Times – Syrian authorities said on Thursday that their ambassador to neighboring Iraq had been fired, the first official, if roundabout, confirmation that the diplomat had defected in a new fracturing of the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which has faced a slow but growing rash of desertions.
Roula Khalaf, Washington Post – Syrian activists say the flow of arms to rebels has slowed over the past two weeks, a pause that might be temporary but could reflect growing concern over the militarization of the 16-month conflict.
SYRIA: Annan urges UN Security Council to promise consequences if no cease-fire in Syria
Washington Post via AP – International envoy Kofi Annan urged the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to send a message to the Syrian government and the opposition that there will be “consequences” if they don’t comply with demands for an immediate cease-fire, a U.N. diplomat said.
CHINA: China’s economic slowdown spreads pain despite stimulus as plunging sales hurt companies
Washington Post via AP – China’s economic slowdown slammed into Li Fangliang, cutting sales at his Shanghai auto parts store by half. “There are just fewer and fewer customers,” said Li, who has avoided layoffs among his four employees. “I plan to start a shop online to find new markets.”
CHINA: Global stock markets fall on fears of slowing China economy, no stimulus from Fed
AP via Washington Post – Global stock markets fell Thursday on fears growth may slow in China and after U.S. Federal Reserve minutes indicated the central bank may not move as quickly as hoped to stimulate the country’s economy.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan president calls on Taliban to relinquish weapons, join political process
Washington Post via AP – Afghanistan’s president called on the Taliban Thursday to relinquish their weapons, saying that the group and its leader should join the political process. All past requests have been ignored by the insurgency — which refuses to directly engage the government.
AFGHANISTAN: US ambassador to Kabul says Afghan civil war unlikely after foreign troops leave
The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan said Thursday that he thinks it’s unlikely that the departure of most foreign troops by 2014 will plunge the country into another civil war or prompt a precipitous economic slide.“I tend to consider those unlikely scenarios,” said Ryan Crocker, a soft-spoken, gray-haired diplomat who became the civilian face of America’s wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
John Lyons and Luciana Magalhaes, WSJ – Bid to Boost Sagging GDP Prompts Eighth Straight Rate Drop to Record 8% Low, as Economic Model Comes Under Fire. Brazil’s central bank on Wednesday tried to counter sputtering growth with its eighth consecutive rate cut to a record 8% low, as many economists say the nation’s plan must be redrawn as revival efforts fall short. Economists have slashed their 2012 growth forecasts to around half the 4% target for the year.
IRELAND: Protestant brotherhood Orange Order begins tense day of marches across Northern Ireland
Washington Post via AP – Tens of thousands of Protestants from the Orange Order brotherhood marched from their lodges Thursday across Northern Ireland in an annual demonstration that often ends in violence. Before the daylong marches, riot police clashed with Irish nationalist men and teens on the edge of Catholic west Belfast. They arrested 10 suspected rioters and said three of their officers suffered minor injuries from hurled stones, bricks and bottles.
INDIA/IRAN/OIL: Insurance Woes Slow India Deals for Iran Oil
Santanu Choudhury and Anirban Chowdhury, WSJ – India has been forced to seek its own arrangements to insure its purchases of Iranian oil, officials said, even as it reduces imports under pressure from U.S. and European Union sanctions.
Will Englund, Washington Post – A major Internet TV provider here has dropped CNN, Bloomberg TV and the BBC, for reasons that a company official said were “beyond its control.” The provider, called Arkado, issued a statement Thursday afternoon alleging that the companies had not obtained proper “licenses” for broadcast in Russia, despite warnings. It said it regretted the “harm” caused to its customers.
Karen DeYoung, Washington Post – The Obama administration formally lifted prohibitions on U.S. investment in Burma on Wednesday, opening the door to American companies, particularly in the energy sector, that have argued they were losing business to international competitors.
Waqar Gillani and Salman Masood, NY Times – At least nine police officers were killed early on Thursday when unidentified gunmen stormed a compound in the eastern city of Lahore in an attack that revived concerns about a fresh wave of terrorist strikes, officials said.
MALAYSIA: Malaysia Vows to Repeal Speech Law
Kevin Drew, NY Times – Prime Minister Najib Razak said the current Sedition Act, enacted in 1948 when the Malaysia was under British rule, “represents a bygone era in our country” and will be replaced with new laws he called the National Harmony Act, according to a statement released late Wednesday. The new legislation will aim to protect freedom of speech while preventing the incitement of religious or ethnic hatred, he said.
SUDAN/GUANTANAMO: Guantánamo Prisoner Is Repatriated to Sudan
Charlie Savage, NY Times – The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it had transferred a convicted member of Al Qaeda from the prison camp atGuantánamo Bay, Cuba, to Sudan under the terms of a plea deal struck with military prosecutors. It is the first time a detainee convicted under the Obama administration’s version of the military commissions system has been sent back to his native country.
SAUDI ARABIA: Saudis to send 2 female athletes to Olympics for 1st time
Washington Post via AP – very country competing at the London Games will include female athletes for the first time in Olympic history after Saudi Arabia agreed Thursday to send two women to compete in judo and track and field.
RWANDA/CONGO: Rwanda agrees to 3rd-party monitoring of border with Congo following accusations of rebel aid
Washington Post via AP – Rwanda has agreed to third-party monitoring of the troubled Rwanda-Congo border. A statement from Rwanda’s Foreign Ministry Wednesday says the 11-member International Conference of the Great Lakes Region has agreed on reinforced border surveillance.
ROMANIA: European Union seeking explanation for Romanian president’s impeachment
Washington Post via AP – Romania’s prime minister was meeting with top EU officials Thursday to explain the president’s impeachment by parliament, after the EU raised concerns about the hurried manner in which the ouster was carried out.
UK/ARAB SPRING: UK spy agencies wrong-footed by rebellions in the Arab Spring
Washington Post via AP – Britain’s spies were wrong-footed by the spread of unrest during the Arab Spring and failed to predict the dramatic uprisings that swept the region, Parliament’s intelligence and security committee said Thursday.
HUMAN RIGHTS/RUSSIA/CHINA: Magnitsky bill opens door to wider targets
US law devised to blacklist corrupt Russian officials could become a tool to punish human rights abuse elsewhere, particularly China.