TOP NEWS: Nat’l Security / Foreign Affairs: July 30, 2012
- Jihadists Take Bigger Role in Syrian War
- Sharp Contraction in Spain
- Crash of the Bumblebee
- Hostile Reception for Syrian Refugees in Iraq
- Panetta: U.S., Israel unified on Iran sanctions
Excerpts and more top stories
Neil MacFarquhar and Hwaida Saad, NY Times – As the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s government grinds on with no resolution in sight, Syrians involved in the armed struggle say it is becoming more radicalized: homegrown Muslim jihadists, as well as small groups of fighters from Al Qaeda, are taking a more prominent role and demanding a say in running the resistance.
EUROZONE/SPAIN: Sharp Contraction in Spain
David Roman, WSJ – Spain’s economy contracted at a faster pace in the second quarter and inflation jumped in July due to higher drug prices and cuts to medical subsidies as austerity measures continued to take their toll.
EUROZONE/ECB: Crash of the Bumblebee
Paul Krugman, NY Times – Last week Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, declared that his institution “is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the Euro” — and markets celebrated. In particular, interest rates on Spanish bonds fell sharply, and stock markets soared everywhere. “The euro will be workable only if the European Union becomes much more like a unified country.”
Duraid Adnan and Rod Nordland, NY Times – Alone among Syria’s Muslim neighbors, Iraq is resisting receiving refugees from the conflict, and is making those who do arrive anything but comfortable. Baghdad is worried about the fighters of a newly resurgent Al Qaeda flowing both ways across the border, and about the Sunni opponents of the two governments making common cause.
Babak Dehghanpisheh, Washington Post – As the fighting in Syria intensifies, many Lebanese fear that the conflict could spill over the border, upending the fragile sectarian balance holding their country together and sparking another bloody internal conflict fueled by regional powers.
Kareem Fahim, NY Times – As fierce fighting continued across Syria on Sunday, the country’s foreign minister, on a visit to Iran, blamed Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey for the escalation of violence and vowed that his government would rout the rebels fighting the army in Aleppo.
SYRIA: Syrians fear conflict will scar generations
Michael Peel, FT – Traumatised civilians forced to flee their homes now find themselves refugees a second time as fighting reaches Damascus and Aleppo.
Greg Jaffe, Washington Post – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta sought Sunday to portray the United States and Israel as unified in their support for increasingly tough international sanctions, rather than military measures, against Iran to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon.
Amos Regev, Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom – In special interview ahead of his visit to Israel, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney vows: I would treat Israel like the friend and ally it is. Romney calls 1967 borders “indefensible,” and says Iran is closer to nuclear weapons than it was when President Obama took office.
AFGHANISTAN: U.S. Fund to Rebuild Afghanistan Is Criticized
Matthew Roseberg, NY Times – Two years ago, as the final pieces of the Obama administration’s troop surge were moving into place in southern Afghanistan, American officials identified a handful of infrastructure projects that they hoped would build popular support for the Afghan government in the Taliban’s heartland.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post – A U.S. initiative to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on construction projects in Afghanistan, originally pitched as a vital tool in the military campaign against the Taliban, is running so far behind schedule that it will not yield benefits until most U.S. combat forces have departed the country, according to a government inspection report to be released Monday.
Matthew Rosenberg and Eric Schmitt, NY Times – The American-led coalition on Sunday bluntly rebutted an assertion made last week by a senior Pakistani official that American forces had on 52 occasions done little over all to stop Pakistan Taliban militants from using Afghan territory as a springboard for attacks on Pakistani forces in the mountains along the poorly marked frontier.
CHINA/HONG KONG: Big Hong Kong protest assails Communist Party ‘brainwashing’
Andrew Higgins, Washington Post – Tens of thousands of protesters paraded through Hong Kong on Sunday, waving placards denouncing “brainwashing” by China’s Communist Party and calling for the scrapping of plans for “national education” courses in local schools.
CHINA/SPACE EXPLORATION: China’s Growing Space Power
Frank G. Klotz, CFR – Commentators often refer to China as an “emerging space power.” This characterization understates China’s current space capabilities. China has in many respects already reached the top tier of spacefaring nations—with profound implications not only for America’s own interests in space, but also for the much-touted “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region.
Damien Cave, NY Times – The agricultural output of Uruguay includes rice, soybeans and wheat. Soon, though, the government may get its hands dirty with a far more complicated crop —marijuana — as part of a rising movement in this region to create alternatives to the United States-led war on drugs.
Christine Hauser, NY Times – In the first sentences to be handed down in a $2.6 billion embezzlement case, an Iranian court ordered the death penalty for four people in the fraud that was uncovered in a network of Iranian banks last year, Iranian state media reported on Monday.
Sruthi Gorripati and Niharika Mandhana, NY Times – Tens of millions of people in North India were without power and early morning commutes in Delhi were thrown into chaos Monday after a massive electrical grid failure. Water supplies may be seriously disrupted this evening, because of the power problems, officials said.
Eleanor Warnock, WSJ – Japanese industrial output fell unexpectedly in June, hitting the nation’s export-oriented manufacturers and perhaps giving the Bank of Japan an incentive to further ease monetary policy at their next meeting.
SAUDI ARABIA/OLYMPICS: A Giant Leap for Women, but Hurdles Remain
Jere Longman, NY Times – For the first time, Saudi Arabia sent two female athletes to compete in London, along with at least one sports official. But the three women who participated in the opening ceremony walked behind the men, not among them. For some Westerners, this has been viewed a reminder of the subordinate place of women in the conservative Islamic monarchy.
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