TOP NEWS: Nat’l Security / Foreign Affairs: July 16, 2012

                                                                                                                                                 


Excerpts and more top stories


SYRIA: Russia Warns It Will Not Back Britain on Syria Sanctions


Andrew E. Kramer, NY Times – Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov made clear on Monday that the Kremlin has no intention of supporting a British proposal to enact United Nations sanctions as a solution to the Syrian crisis.

SYRIA: New Fighting in Damascus After Syria Denies Attack on Civilians


Neil MacFarquhar, NY Times – New fighting was reported in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Monday, a day after the government denied that it had used heavy weapons to attack a small farming community, where United Nations monitors documented substantial destruction in an assault that left scores dead and drew sharp international condemnation.

SYRIA: Russia denounces Western ‘blackmail’ over Syria


Will Englund, Washington Post – Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused “Western colleagues” on Monday of trying to blackmail Russia into supporting a United Nations resolution on Syria that, he contended, would open the door to civil war.

SYRIA: In Syria, an oasis from the war


Austin Tice, Washington Post – The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost control of Yabrud. But unlike Homs, Hama and countless other places where pro-Assad forces have unleashed furious assaults to keep their grip amid a 16-month-long rebellion, Yabrud appears to have been given up to the rebels. Here, at least for the time being, the revolution has been won. And it was won without a fight.

SPAIN: Spain discovers that bail-outs bring austerity and lost freedom


The Economist – As Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy turns to his European Union partners to bail out Spain’s banks, his freedom to pursue his own policies is dwindling. The new sales tax rise is a direct imposition by Spain’s new masters in Brussels.

EUROZONE: Britain’s continental drift away from the European Union


Anthony Faiola, Washington Post – Like so many others in this fiercely independent island nation, Steve Baker, a dashing English engineer, is fed up with the long hand of the European Union in British life.

EUROZONE: Can Banking Plan Aid Eurozone?


Domenico Lombardi invterviewed by Christopher Alessi, Council on Foreign Relations – Eurozone leaders are pushing ahead with plans for a single banking authority situated in the European Central Bank, a first step toward developing a eurozone banking union. The new banking supervisor would be able to activate the permanent euro rescue fund to directly recapitalize struggling eurozone banks.

NORTH KOREA: North Korea Removes Its Army Chief From All His Posts


Choe Sang- Hun, NY Times – With Monday’s development, some analysts say, one thing at least is clear: Mr. Kim is wielding his family’s favorite tool of control — using and discarding the senior officials around him like pawns on a chess board.

MIDDLE EAST: Clinton Sees Opportunity as Well as Uncertainty in Middle East


Jodi Rudoren, NY Times – Calling this “a time of uncertainty but also of opportunity” in the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Monday that Israel and the United States must “think together, act together” and be “smart, creative and courageous.”

MIDDLE EAST: As Clinton urges dialogue, Egypt’s military chief takes tough stance on Brotherhood


A.P. via Washington Post – The head of Egypt’s military took a tough line Sunday on the Muslim Brotherhood, warning that he won’t let the fundamentalist group dominate the country, only hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged him to work with Egypt’s elected Islamist leaders.

MIDDLE EAST: Where Obama failed on forging peace in the Middle East


Scott Wilson, Washington Post, Opinion- It was their first meeting with the new president, and the dozen or so Jewish leaders picked to attend had made an agreement among themselves: No arguing — either with each other or their host. The pledge would be hard to keep.

BURMA: U.S. is moving too fast on Burma


Michael Green and Daniel Twining, Washington Post – the Obama administration lifted prohibitions on U.S. investment in Burma. American companies are now free to partner with the state-owned energy conglomerate — the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) — whose revenue has underwritten the military regime’s repression of its people and ongoing wars against ethnic dissidents.

CHINA/ INDIA: China, India, other developing countries show signs of slowdown


Howard Scheider, Washington Post – The crisis in Europe and a sluggish U.S. recovery have begun sapping growth across the rest of the world as China, India and other major developing countries join in an evolving global slowdown.

SECURITY: Port security: U.S. fails to meet deadline for scanning of cargo containers


Douglas Frantz, Washington Post – The Obama administration has failed to meet a legal deadline for scanning all shipping containers for radioactive material before they reach the United States, a requirement aimed at strengthening maritime security and preventing terrorists from smuggling a nuclear device into any of the nation’s 300 sea and river ports.

MEXICO: Will Mexico’s New President Deliver?


Allison Jackson, RealClearWorld – Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto has vowed to deliver “results” after the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was swept back into power on July 1 on a tide of voter frustration at weak economic growth and drug-related violence.

CHINA: Wage Rises in China May Ease Slowdown


Tom Orlik and Bob Davis, WSJ - Wages are still climbing rapidly in China and many companies are having trouble filling jobs despite the sharp economic slowdown here—evidence of a structural shortage in the labor market that may help China adjust to slower growth without political instability and whet consumer appetites for foreign goods.

CHINA: Time for China to Abandon Its Population Control Policy


Yanzhong Huang, Council on Foreign Relations – Last Thursday, fifteen prominent Chinese legal and demographic scholars issued an open letter calling for the end of restrictions on people’s birth rights. The action was prompted by news reports that local government officials in northwest China forced a seven-month pregnant woman, Feng Jianmei, to undergo an abortion.

JAPAN: Japan Calls Back Its Envoy From China in Sea Spat


Takashi Nakamichi, WSJ - Japan summoned its ambassador from Beijing, in what appeared to be a protest at Chinese vessels’ recent entry into waters around islands claimed by both countries. Sunday’s move by Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba was the latest sign that tension between the world’s second- and third-largest economies is escalating as Japan steps up efforts to assert its sovereignty over the islands.

AFRICA: African Union Elects New Leader


Patrick McGroarty, WSJ - South Africa’s home affairs minister was elected Sunday to lead the African Union, capping a months-long campaign that aimed to expand the government’s diplomatic role on the continent but risked sowing divisions among other African countries.