TOP NEWS: Nat’l Security / Foreign Affairs: August 9, 2012
- Clashes Rage in Rebel Bastions of Syria’s Aleppo
- Getting around a dead-end in Syria
- Breaking up the euro area: Merkel memorandum
- Egyptian Officials Fired Over Soldiers’ Sinai Killings
- U.S. and Gulf Allies Pursue Missile Shield Against Iran
Excerpts and more top stories
SYRIA/FIGHTING: Clashes Rage in Rebel Bastions of Syria’s Aleppo
Zeina Karam, AP via CFR – Clashes between government troops and rebels raged Thursday in opposition bastions of besieged Aleppo as President Bashar Assad’s key state backer Iran hosted a gathering of countries for talks on how to end the conflict.
SYRIA/CONTROL: On Damascus Streets, Front Lines Multiply
Nour Malas, WSJ – Neighborhood Patrols in Syrian Capital Take Up Arms for the Regime; In Some Areas, Rebels Are Manning the Checkpoints
SYRIA/INTERVENTION: Getting around a dead-end in Syria
Washington Post Editorial – The Defection of Syria’s prime minister to Jordan on Monday prompted yet another White House declaration that Assad’s regime is “crumbling.” While we hope that this is the case, the grim reality is that the brutal war is likely to go on unless the US abandons its policy of passivity.
SYRIA/INTERVENTION: Obama AWOL in Syria
Nicholas D. Kristof, NY times, Opinion – Why is Obama passive as thousands of Syrians are dying? Top strategists want him to act now.
SYRIA/INTERVENTION: A Call to Arm Syria’s Rebels
Malcolm Rifkind, NY Times, Op-Ed -Western military combat in Syria would be mistaken. Unlike the NATO-supported action in Libya, there is no prospect of Russia ending its veto in the UN. Nor has the Arab League called for such action, as it did with the rising against Muammar el-Qaddafi, this does not mean, however, that the United States and Europe can and should do nothing.
SYRIA/DEBATE: How to End the Chaos in Syria
Room for Debate, NY Times – The Assad regime continues to lose crucial support; meanwhile, opposition factions continue to jockey for power, many of them financed by foreign entities that have their own agendas. Earlier this week Iran framed the unrest as part of a wider struggle fueled by the U.S. and “other hostile world powers.” What can be done to end the fighting, or at least contain it?
SYRIA/INTERVENTION: The Other Reasons for Invading Syria
Micah Zenko, CFR, Opinion – An analysis of various justifications for U.S. intervention in Syria, including protecting Syrian civilians and ousting a regime allied with Iran.
EUROZONE/GERMAN PLAN B: Breaking up the euro area: The Merkel memorandum
Economist, Opinion – Angela Merkel, in effect, the euro area’s boss, has always insisted that she wants to preserve the euro area in its current form. But as the euro crisis intensifies and the potential bills for Germany mount, she would be imprudent not to be considering a Plan B.
EUROZONE: ITALIAN FINANCE: Circling the wagons
Schumpeter, Economist, Opinion – A deal purporting to rescue a big insurer shows the lengths to which the Italian financial establishment will go to get its way.
EUROZONE/GERMAN BANKING: Commerzbank Warns on Profit
Ulrike Dauer, WSJ – Germany’s Commerzbank AG on Thursday said net profit in the second half will be lower than in the first six months, as challenging market conditions mute customer activity, weighing on revenue and putting continued pressure on the loan book.
Kareen Fahim – Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s president, upended the country’s security apparatus after the deadliest attack on the Egyptian military in years.
Fawaz Gerges, Guardian UK – Mubarak exploited Sinai and left 50% of Bedouins living in poverty. The new leaders mustn’t just focus on sealing off Gaza.
EGYPT/MEDIA: Fears Rise over Media Control
AP via NY Times – Egypt’s upper house of Parliament named 50 new editors for state-owned newspapers on Wednesday, including several who appear to have Islamist leanings, raising concerns among journalists of Islamizing the press.
IRAN/GULF STATES: U.S. and Gulf Allies Pursue a Missile Shield Against Iranian Attack
Thom Shanker, NY Times – The United States and its Arab allies are knitting together a regional missile defense system across the Persian Gulf to protect cities, oil refineries, pipelines and military bases from an Iranian attack,
IRAN/S.KOREA: S.Korea to restart Iranian oil imports
Song Jung-a, FT – South Korea plans to restart imports of Iranian oil after refiners said Tehran had offered to deliver crude on its own tankers and provide up to $1bn insurance cover for the vessels.
ISRAEL/IRAN: Plots Are Tied to Shadow War of Israel and Iran
Nicolas Kulish, Jodi Rudoren, NY Times – Analysts say the shadow war between Israel and Iran (and Hezbollah), has more in common with the cloak-and-dagger maneuverings of the C.I.A. and the K.G.B. during the cold war than the publicity-hungry terrorism campaign of Al Qaeda.
ISRAEL/SYRIA: As the Sinai Goes, So Too the Golan Heights?
The new status quo in the Middle East is one of porous borders, growing radicalization and the fragmentation of once stable nation-states
Economist, Op-Ed – Is democracy possible in a Jewish state with a strong ultra-Orthodox component? Opinions here by Avraham Burg, Israel’s Chairman of Molad – the center for renewal of Israeli democracy, and Daniel Gordis, Senior vice-president and Koret Distinguished Fellow at Israel’s Shalem Centre in Jerusalem.
GLOBAL ECONOMY: OECD Leading Indicators Point to Slowdowns in Major Economies
Paul Hannon, WSJ – Most major economies are set to slow in coming months, with only Brazil and possibly the U.K. likely to experience a moderate pickup, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s composite leading indicators.
AFGHANISTAN: Fatal Attack Shows Plan to Unsettle Afghanistan
Allissa J. Rubin, NY Times – despite years of intensive coalition military offensives in some parts of the region, militants pose a perpetual threat, even in the provincial capital, Asadabad. The tenor and pace of attacks speak to the Taliban’s long-range strategy, in which civilians are regularly reminded of the militants’ resilience in a place where government control has always seemed tenuous.
Declan Walsh, Salman Masood, NY Times – Pakistan’s Supreme Court issued a contempt-of-court notice against new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Wednesday, signaling a rerun of judicial proceedings that saw his predecessor ousted from office in June
WSJ, Opinion – Perhaps somewhere at CIA headquarters is a medal of honor for Shakil Afridi, whose bogus hepatitis vaccination scheme helped the agency locate bin Laden. As things now stand, however, the doctor is being held in solitary confinement in Peshawar’s central jail, serving a 33-year sentence for treason.
UK/TRADE DEFICIT: U.K. Posts Record Trade Deficit
Nicolas Winning, Alex Brittain, WSJ – The U.K. has posted its largest overall trade deficit since comparable records began 15 years ago, indicating weak demand for British goods, both in Europe and beyond, is hampering the country’s efforts to trade its way out of recession.
BBC – Libya’s interim National Transitional Council has handed power to a newly elected assembly, almost a year after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi. The NTC, formed during last year’s revolt, has now been dissolved. Meanwhile, fighting continues in some parts of Libya and militia groups still hold a lot of power.
RUSSIA/PUNK TRIAL: Punk Band’s Moscow Trial Offers Platform for Orthodox Protesters
Sophia Kishkovsky, David M. Herszenhorn, NY Times - While the “Pussy Riot” punk trial has generated worldwide publicity by raising questions about freedom of speech in Russia, it has also provided a public platform for strident, even fundamentalist, views within the Orthodox Church about religion and the church’s broader role in Russian society.
RUSSIA/BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS: Book details Soviet plans to wage germ warfare with lethal ‘designer’ strains
Joby Warrick, Washington Post – In the Soviet playbook for all-out war with the United States, the wasting of U.S. cities by nuclear bombs was to be followed by something equally horrifying: waves of plagues to kill any survivors. None of these weapons were used during the Cold War, but a new book suggests that the dangers posed by the program never completely abated.
CHINA/US PIVOT: America Needs a Business Pivot Toward Asia
Curtis S. Chin, WSJ, Op-Ed – With the Obama administration’s policy “pivot” to Asia, increasing diplomatic outreach, and rebalancing and repositioning of military assets in the Asia-Pacific region; missing from this shift is a “business pivot”—a more concerted effort to increase trade and investment between America and its allies in the region.
Minxin Pei, The Diplomat – Has China’s rise peaked? If one were to pose this question a few years ago, he would probably be laughed out of the room. The conventional wisdom then was that China’s rise was certain to continue. But today, this question is very much on everyone’s mind.
CHINA/TRIAL: Trial of Chinese Ex-Official’s Wife Begins and Ends
Andrew Jacobs, NY Times – After only seven hours, officials said that Gu Kailai, the wife of the deposed political leader Bo Xilai, and an accomplice had all but confessed to poisoning a British businessman.
CHINA/ECONOMY: Beijing Reports Slowing Inflation
Tom Orlik, WSJ – China’s consumer inflation eased further to 1.8% in July, leaving some room for the central bank to continue loosening monetary policy to support growth.
YEMEN/DRONE STRIKES: US rejects criticism Yemen drone strikes
Geoff Dyer, FT – John Brennan denies the controversial policy is boosting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or bolstering anti-American sentiment in the country.
GERMANY/TERRORISM: Debate in Germany Over ‘Dangerous Jihadist’
Melissa Eddy, NY Times – Revelations that a Tunisian man, considered a “dangerous jihadist” who may have served as a bodyguard to Osama bin Laden has been living for years in a western German city have ignited a debate over trying to curtail the activities of potential Islamic extremists.
BRAZIL/AFRICA COMMERCE: Brazil Gains Business and Influence as It Offers Aid and Loans in Africa
Simon Romero, NY Times – Brazil, which has more people of African descent than any other country outside of Africa itself, is assertively raising its profile again on the continent, building on historical ties.
VENEZUELA: Venezuelan cheap petrol policy backfires
Benedict Mander, FT - Smuggling has become a multibillion-dollar business and the government claims to be losing up to $8bn a year as a result.
Miles Johnson, FT - Spain’s government is facing mounting criticism for political interference in the country’s main state broadcaster after a string of high-profile departures.
IVORY COAST: Report Details Crimes by President’s Faction
AP via WSJ – Hundreds of fighters aligned with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara committed grave crimes, including execution and torture during the country’s recent postelection violence, according to the final report of the country’s Commission of Inquiry given to the president on Wednesday.
AP via NY Times – Iraq’s self-ruled northern Kurdish region has resumed pumping crude oil earmarked for export through the central government’s pipeline after halting it for four months over what Kurdish authorities called a payment dispute.
ENVIRONMENT/UN: Profits on Carbon Credit Drive Output of a Harmful Gas
Elisabeth Rosenthal, Andrew W. Lehren – Manufacturers have ramped up production of a common air-conditioning coolant, counting on a windfall under a United Nations program. But where the UN envisioned environmental reform, some manufacturers saw a lucrative business opportunity.
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