TOP NEWS: Nat’l Security / Foreign Affairs: August 1, 2012
- White House and Congress Are in Step Over Iran Sanctions
- Group Gets U.S. License to Fund Syria Rebels
- Is Draghi at his WIT’s End?
- Pakistan’s New Spy Chief Visits Washington
- Huge blackout fuels doubts about India’s economic ambitions
Excerpts and more top stories
Mark Landler and Steve Lee Myers, NY Times – The White House and Congress raced to impose more punishing sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, as that country’s nuclear ambitions resurfaced in the presidential election campaign after Mitt Romney’s pledge to give Israel unstinting support in its confrontation with Iran.
Maria Abi-Habib, WSJ – Iran has allowed the Taliban to open an office in eastern Iran and discussed providing them with surface-to-air missiles, ramping up the potential for cooperation with the insurgents, according to senior Afghan and Western officials.
Jeffrey Sparshott, WSJ – The U.S. has given a Washington-based group clearance to provide direct financial assistance to the Free Syrian Army, a new bid by the Obama administration to support Syria’s opposition.
Joby Warrick and Anne Gearan, Washington Post – Even with rebel armies closing in, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is showing no hint of a willingness to cede power, raising the prospect of a long, bloody and potentially calamitous final chapter to the country’s civil war, U.S. officials and Middle East experts say.
Colum Lynch, Washington Post – Annan’s failure may have taken another toll — on the reputation of a career peacemaker and, by extension, on confidence in the power of diplomacy to resolve what is turning out to be one of the most intractable crises to grow out of the Arab Spring.
SYRIA: Syria’s Assad urges his army to step up fight against rebels; UN says regime using warplanes
AP via Washington Post – Syrian President Bashar Assad urged his armed forces Wednesday to step up the fight against rebels as the U.N. reported a significant escalation in the civil war with the military using warplanes to fire on opposition fighters in the battle for Aleppo.
SYRIA: Turkey launches military drill on Syrian border in apparent show of muscle aimed at Kurds
AP via Washington Post – Turkey launched a military drill Wednesday just across the border from a Syrian town it claims is controlled by Kurdish rebels — a show of muscle aimed at Kurdish separatists pushing for autonomy within Turkey’s borders.
EUROZONE: Is Draghi at his WIT’s End?
Randall W. Forsyth, Barron’s – After declaring the ECB would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro, the bank’s head runs into German opposition.
Landon Thomas Jr., NY Times – Most people have heard of the Marshall Plan. Some might even know what Brady bonds are. But they have not yet heard of the Brunnermeier plan. Or Bishop bonds. Or the Gros accord.
Declan Walsh and Mark Mazzetti, NY Times – As befits any newly installed spymaster, a vague air of mystery surrounds Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam, the head of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, who is visiting Washington in his official capacity for the first time on Wednesday.
Richard Leiby, Washington Post – Pakistan will allow NATO supply convoys to cross its territory into Afghanistan until the end of 2015, one year beyond the deadline for withdrawal of U.S. combat forces there, under an agreement signed Tuesday by U.S. and Pakistani officials.
Simon Denyer and Rama Lakshmi, Washington Post – Power was restored in India on Wednesday after two days of blackouts that had cast a huge shadow over the nation’s economic ambitions.
Gardiner Harris and Jim Yardley, NY Times – As electric power was restored across India on Wednesday, the nation’s new power minister sought to tamp down a growing argument between state and federal ministers over who was to blame for Tuesday’s unprecedented blackout.
Siobhan Gorman, WSJ – U.S. officials are increasingly concerned about what they call a growing terrorist threat from Iran as well as an emerging al Qaeda presence in Syria, according to an annual State Department report assessing terrorism trends in 2011.
Martin Vaughan, WSJ – A slowdown in China’s manufacturing sector in July added to a broader ramp-down in the region, as slack demand in Europe and the U.S. continued to erode growth in Asia’s export-driven economies.
Wayne Ma, WSJ – China on Wednesday urged the U.S. to revoke its sanctions against Bank of Kunlun Co., a unit of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp., and warned that the move would damage China’s interests and Sino-U.S. relations.
CHINA: Chinese politician’s wife, now murder suspect, was charming to some, manipulative to others
AP via Washington Post – Gu Kailai has been many things to many people: devoted wife, ambitious lawyer, gracious host, menacing businesswoman and, now, China’s most famous murder suspect.
EGYPT/ISRAEL: Uncertainty Over Letter Underscores Delicate Ties
Isabel Kershner and Elisabeth Bumiller, NY Times – What was thought to be a friendly letter from Mohamed Morsi, the new president of Egypt, to his counterpart in Israel was hailed here on Tuesday as an unexpected sign that Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood intends to maintain cordial ties with Israel.
Greg Jaffe, Washington Post – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta played down concerns Tuesday about a rift between Egypt’s newly elected president and its military chief following a brief stopover in Cairo aimed at giving senior U.S. officials a better sense of how the country’s first Islamist administration will govern.
ISRAEL/IRAN: Panetta, in Israel, seeks patience on Iran but warns that US will use military force
AP via Washington Post – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that U.S. statements of solidarity with Israel and its assurances that military strikes are still an option aren’t working to convince Iran that the West is “serious about stopping them” from developing nuclear weapons.
Rick Gladstone, NY Times – Despite a pledge to stop abuses by its security forces, the ruling Sunni minority in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain is engaged in systematic and disproportionate use of tear gas on its restive Shiite majority, permitting police officers to routinely fire volleys at point-blank range at crowds and into homes and vehicles in Shiite neighborhoods, a leading rights group said in a report released on Wednesday.
BULGARIA/ISRAEL: Bulgarian police releases computer-generated image of suicide bomber that attacked Israelis
AP via Washington Post – Bulgarian police on Wednesday released a computer-generated image of the suicide attacker involved in the bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver two weeks ago.
AFGHANISTAN: After Afghan Shooting, Delays Raise Questions
Maria Abi-Habib, WSJ – In the minutes after an Afghan policemen shot several contractors last week in Afghanistan, a wounded British worker slowly bled to death just 500 yards from an Italian-run base equipped with ambulances, officials familiar with the incident said.
MYANMAR: Human rights group says Myanmar forces failed to halt violence and targeted Muslim Rohingya
AP via Washington Post – A human rights group said Myanmar government forces opened fire on crowds of ethnic Rohingya in a targeted campaign of violence during recent sectarian strife, as a U.N. envoy visited the area Wednesday to investigate the unrest.
COLOMBIA: Veteran Colombian rebel leader says he’s ready to seek peace
AP via Washington Post – A veteran FARC commander who led some of the rebels’ most punishing 1990s attacks and also took part in failed peace talks says he’s ready to end the conflict but doesn’t believe Colombia’s government shares that desire.
LIBYA: Intelligence building in Libya hit by blast; suspected killer of rebel chief freed from jail
AP via Washington Post – An explosion believed to have been caused by a bomb ripped through the military intelligence building in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi at dawn Wednesday, causing damage to the structure and nearby homes but no injuries, a security official said.
France’s Socialist-dominated parliament has approved legislation that makes sexual harassment a crime.The new law, which addresses problems many say have existed for decades in the country, was approved on Thursday by the National Assembly and sets three levels of harassment, with the most serious punishable by up to three years in prison.
N.KOREA: North Korea reports dozens more killed in latest downpours, as UN visits to assess damage
AP via Washington Post – North Korea says dozens more people have been killed or reported missing because of heavy rainfall this week.
PHILIPPINES: Troops rescue 12 crewmen from raft after Indonesian pirates hijacked their vessels
AP via Washington Post – The Philippine military says militiamen have rescued 12 Asian crewmen who were left floating on a raft after Indonesian pirates hijacked their vessels.
TAIWAN: Torrential rains batter Taiwan ahead of Typhoon Saola; at least 14 dead in Philippines
AP via Washington Post -Torrential rains from an approaching typhoon battered eastern Taiwan on Wednesday after killing at least 14 people and displacing 154,000 in the Philippines.
UK: UK court sentences Somali twins to 3 years in prison for raising funds for terrorism abroad
AP via Washington Post – Identical twin brothers from Somalia have been sentenced to three years in prison in Britain for raising money to fund terrorism abroad, officials said Wednesday.
SUDAN: Sudan activists list names of 12 killed in anti-government protests in battle-scarred Darfur
AP via Washington Post – Sudanese activists say regime forces have killed 12 people in the country’s battle-scarred Darfur region, most of them high school students.
UGANDA: Uganda denies its soldiers are fighting alongside Congo rebels; investigating reports
AP via Washington Post -Uganda denies that Ugandan soldiers are fighting alongside Congolese army deserters mounting Congo’s latest rebellion but says it is investigating reports that some Congolese rebels are wearing Ugandan army uniforms.
JORDAN: Police raid alleged weapons traffickers, 1 suspect killed
AP via Washington Post – Jordanian police raided the hideouts of alleged weapon and drug traffickers on Wednesday, sparking rare gun battles in the kingdom’s normally peaceful capital in which one of the suspects was killed, officials said.
SOMALIA: Somali leaders pass new constitution as 2 suicide bombers trying to attack meeting are killed
AP via Washington Post – Somali leaders voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to adopt a new constitution that contains new individual rights and sets the country on a course for a more powerful and representative government. The vote came after two thunderous blasts at the gates of the meeting site from a failed suicide attack.
GAMBIA: Gambia drops indecency charges brought against 20 in April for tourist dance ceremony
AP via Washington Post – A court in Gambia has dropped charges against 18 men and two women who had been arrested in April and charged with indecency after a dance ceremony for tourists.
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