TOP NEWS: Nat’l Security / Foreign Affairs: July 26, 2012
- Key Role Floated for Syrian Defector
- Markets rally as Draghi pledges support
- South Korea growth slowest since 2009
- Worries in U.S. and China Color Obama Aide’s Visit
- Militants down Iraqi army helicopter in ongoing clashes
Excerpts and more top stories
JAY SOLOMON AND SAM DAGHER, WSJ – The Obama administration and officials of some Arab and Western nations are discussing ways to place Syria’s highest-ranking military defector at the center of a political transition in the Arab state. The focus on Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, a childhood friend of President Bashar al-Assad, is increasing as hopes fade for prospects that an umbrella resistance group, the Syrian National Council, can galvanize the opposition.
NEIL MacFARQUHAR, NY Times – Government forces maintained their shelling of key Syrian cities on Thursday, with Aleppo in particular bracing for an anticipated showdown between rebel fighters expanding into more neighborhoods and government military reinforcements who have yet to materialize.
Financial Times Editorial – Until now, Washington’s clear view has been that there should be no western intervention in Syria to defend civilians or change the regime. There are good reasons for this. One thing is changing, however. The conflict can no longer be classified as a civil war within a single state. It now risks the stability of Syria’s neighbours and poses direct security threats to the west.
RANIA ABOUZEID , Time – There has been much speculation about whether or not Islamic radicals have gained a foothold in the chaotic battlefield that is Syria today. While there are jihadists, both foreign and local, inside Syria, their presence should not be overstated. But, as Karl Vick’s latest story in this week’s issue of TIME magazine relates, should the conflict spiral out of hand, their role may exponentially grow.
EUROZONE: Markets rally as Draghi pledges support
Jamie Chisholm, Financial Times – News that European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said he would do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro, and that combating recent spikes in borrowing costs came within the ECB’s mandate, has pushed the single currency, stocks and commodities sharply higher, and “peripheral” bond yields lower.
EUROZONE/GREECE: Greece Hammers Out Austerity Cuts as Lenders Pore over Books
Leftderis Papadimas, Reuters – Greece has scraped together a plan to save nearly 12 billion euros over the next two years in an increasingly desperate effort to convince visiting EU and IMF inspectors it deserves to be saved rather than pushed out of the euro zone.
EUROZONE/ ITALY: Italy stands firm in face of markets crisis
Guy Dinmore, Financial Times – The country will not be panicked into taking more emergency measures, insists prime minister Mario Monti, as it braces for an August attack on its bonds.
EUROZONE/SPAIN: The Sound of Silence
JONATHAN BLITZER, NY Times, Opinion – Rajoy and his allies have pointedly refused to address the public on their new austerity plan. What Spaniards need to know about the economic program they have to glean from his silence and absences. The Rajoy government understands that the program, which includes tax hikes, is unpopular but it has forged ahead anyway. The problem is that the Partido Popular is a democratically elected government from which Spanish citizens expect accountability — and answers.
Liz Alderman, NYTimes – The economies of Europe continue to weaken, with Britain reporting on Wednesday that its second recession in three years had deepened and several other reports showing business conditions were deteriorating in Germany. The troubling reports put pressure on countries in the euro zone that could be asked to give more financial assistance to their neighbors.
EUROZONE/UK: Stumble Fuels Austerity Debate
AINSLEY THOMSON AND CASSELL BRYAN-LOW, WSJ – The U.K.’s economy suffered a much larger contraction than expected in the second quarter, heightening questions about the pace and effectiveness of the government’s austerity program and fueling the broader debate across Europe about how to tackle the Continent’s economic woes.
EUROZONE: Europe’s Crisis Hits Profits
SAM SCHECHNER AND KATE LINEBAUGH, WSJ – Europe’s deepening economic crisis is cutting into corporate earnings, with the continent’s woes threatening to exert a drag on multinational corporations around the world into next year.
SOUTH KOREA: South Korea growth slowest since 2009
Simon Mundy, Financial Times – Annualised economic expansion slowed to 2.4 per cent, the weakest rate since the third quarter of 2009, as export markets struggled and consumer sentiment flagged.
JANE PERLEZ, NY Times – The Obama administration’s national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, ended two days of talks with China’s top leaders Wednesday evening, a visit that was billed as low-key but was freighted as much with domestic politics in both the United States and China as with foreign policy. The political jockeying at China’s expense even before the presidential campaign gets fully under way makes the leadership here uneasy.
Carlos Tejeda, WSJ – Chinese officials have indicted Gu Kailai, the wife of fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai, on the charge of intentional homicide, state media reported on Thursday. The state-run Xinhua news agency said Ms. Gu was prosecuted by officials in Anhui province, and a person named Zhang Xiaojun had been charged.
Kevin Yao, Reuters – The death toll from Beijing’s heaviest rainstorm in six decades more than doubled to 77 after rescuers found more bodies, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday, citing the city’s municipal government.
IRAQ: Militants down Iraqi army helicopter as part of clashes that have killed 19 in 3 days
AP via Washington Post – Militants downed an Iraqi army helicopter on Thursday in clashes that have killed at least 19 people including 11 policemen, a regional official said, in what appeared to be part of an al-Qaida surge to retake one of its former strongholds.
Richard Lieby, Washington Post: Sixty-one thousand refugees now occupy a camp near Peshawar. Food supplies are running short. The Pakistani military has made little headway in three years against a relatively small concentration of Taliban-allied insurgents, raising questions about the security forces’ capacity and will to defeat them.
Jack Ewing and Bill Vlasic, NYTimes – A dreadful year for European car sales may force the region’s industry to deal with the overstaffed, underused factories that have been undermining earnings for years.
PAUL GEITNER, NY Times – Europe prides itself on its open borders, but many gay couples leave their rights behind when they cross them because of the continent’s lingering differences on family law. On the intertwined Continent, which prides itself on its open borders and a single market, the resulting differences are more than symbolic. Increasingly they are leading to practical difficulties in all kinds of areas, like taxes, parental rights and inheritances, as people move around for work, love or just vacation.
Dan Bilefsky, NYTimes – Ivica Dacic, the wartime spokesman for Slobodan Milosevic’s party, will become prime minister on Thursday, stoking international concerns that Serbia will return to the nationalism of the past.
INDIA: India Sends More Troops after Ethnic Violence Kills 42, Frightened Villagers Cram into Camps
AP via Washington Post – Indian authorities rushed more troops to a remote northeastern state on Thursday to quell ethnic violence that has killed dozens over the past week and left villagers frightened to return to the remnants of their homes.
Sadanand Dhuman, WSJ, Opinion – India’s Supreme Court is this week reviewing whether Muslims deserve affirmative action, and this has once again ignited a debate on how the world’s largest democracy treats its biggest minority.
CHOE SANG-HUN, NY Times - The appearance of Kim Jong-un’s wife is a sign that he is breaking from the style of his father, who was known for marrying beautiful performers but never introduced them to his people.
ADAM NOSSITER, NY Times – While much alarm has been expressed about the extremist ministate in northern Mali, the situation here in the Malian capital is dire in its own way. Outside hopes for confronting the Islamists in the north have been pinned on the renewal of civil government here, after a military coup d’état in March.
DANI DAYAN, NY Times, Opinion – The insertion of an independent Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan would be a recipe for disaster. The influx of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere would convert the new state into a hotbed of extremism. The American government and its European allies should abandon this failed formula once and for all and accept that the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are not going anywhere.
Ibrahim Mshelizza, Reuters – Suspected members of Islamist sect Boko Haram have killed at least five people in attacks on a police station, a local government office and a factory owned by Indians in the northeast city of Maiduguri, authorities said on Thursday.
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