WoI World Brief

Iran

The 44th administration is relying on a secret channel of communication to warn Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that closing the Strait of Hormuz is a “red line” that would provoke an American response, according to United States government officials. – New York Times

Pressure on Iran mounted on Thursday, with the United States saying it was determined to isolate its central bank, and three of Iran’s largest oil customers — Japan, South Korea and China — getting assurances that Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf producers would help make up any gap in supplies if they curtailed oil purchases from Iran. – New York Times

The Pentagon quietly shifted combat troops and warships to the Middle East after the top American commander in the region warned that he needed additional forces to deal with Iran and other potential threats, U.S. officials said. – Los Angeles Times

Iran expressed deepening fury at Israel and the United States on Thursday over the drive-by bombing that killed a nuclear scientist in Tehran the day before, and signaled that its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps might carry out revenge assassinations. – New York Times

Iran likely would turn to Russia or China for help in reverse engineering a U.S. drone that landed in its territory last year because the Islamic republic lacks the manufacturing capability to replicate the technology. – Washington Times

Former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, caught up in the conflict between Washington and Tehran, has been portrayed by Iran as a spy, a suspicion fueled by his prior military service and past employment with defense contractors. But Mr. Hekmati’s résumé reads like that of many other former service members making a living at the intersection of the defense and industrial establishment through a string of contracting and consulting jobs. – Wall Street Journal

President Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday amid escalating tensions with Iran. – DEFCON Hill

Turkey has said it is not bound by new oil sanctions against Iran, even as countries such as Japan and India revise energy plans to reduce their dependence on Tehran. – Financial Times

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on China’s state-run Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, which it said was Iran’s largest supplier of refined petroleum products, as it sought to impress on Beijing and Tehran its resolve to increase economic pressure over Iran’s nuclear program. – Reuters

A senior U.N. nuclear agency team will visit Tehran on Jan. 28 with Iran saying it is ready after years of refusal to discuss allegations that it was involved in secret nuclear weapons work, diplomats said Thursday. – Associated Press

Having switched production of higher-grade enriched uranium to a new, underground site, Iran is now just a year or so away from having enough such material for a nuclear bomb, a former head of U.N. nuclear inspections said. – Reuters

Iran’s nuclear program is too strong to be derailed by the assassination of a few scientists, the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament Ali Larijani said Thursday, blaming arch-enemy Israel for a series of “terrorist attacks.” – Reuters

With its nuclear program beset as never before by sanctions, sabotage and assassination, Iran must now make a new addition to its list of concerns: One of the biggest conventional bombs ever built. – Reuters

Eli Lake reports: Circumstantial evidence suggests the Mossad is responsible for a string of slayings of Iran’s nuclear experts, most recently Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. At the very least Israel’s defense establishment would like allies to believe its spies have pulled off these “events that happen unnaturally.” – The Daily Beast

Much of the world wants to believe that force won’t be necessary to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the explosions and killings show that a covert war involving deadly force is already underway. The 44th Administration says Iran plotted to kill a Saudi ambassador in a Washington, D.C. restaurant, and Iran is trying to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan as it previously did in Iraq. Many more people will die if the world doesn’t get serious about stopping this rogue regime. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Olli Heinonen writes: If Iran decides to produce weapons-grade uranium from 20 percent enriched uranium, it has already technically undertaken 90 percent of the enrichment effort required. What remains to be done is the feeding of 20 percent uranium through existing additional cascades to achieve weapons-grade enrichment (more than 90 percent uranium). This step is much faster than the earlier ones. Growing the stockpile of 3.5 percent and 20 percent enriched uranium, as Iran is now doing, provides the basic material needed to produce four to five nuclear weapons – Foreign Policy

Syria

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official said that a Russian ship thought to be carrying a cargo of munitions reached Syria on Thursday, in defiance of a European Union embargo, after stopping to refuel in Cyprus and receiving what the Turks said was inadequate scrutiny there. – New York Times

Russia’s security council chief accused Nato countries and oil-rich Gulf states of hatching a plot to implement a “Libyan scenario” in Syria and bring down the regime of Bashar al-Assad. – Financial Times

Conflict-torn Syria is battling growing shortages of heating oil and other fuels as President Bashar al-Assad and the west fight a propaganda war over who is to blame. – Financial Times

Arab League head Nabil Elaraby said on Friday he feared a possible civil war in Syria that could have consequences for neighboring countries, as the credibility of the League’s monitoring mission was hit by members starting to walk out. – Reuters

The Iranian embassy in Ankara denied on Thursday that four trucks being held by Turkish customs were carrying military equipment from Iran to Syria, while a spokesman for Turkey’s foreign ministry said an investigation was still in progress. – Reuters

Syrian border guards turned away a protest convoy of about 150 Syrian expatriates from Europe, North America and the Arab world on Thursday who were trying to enter the country to draw attention to civilians caught up in months of unrest. – Reuters

Paul Bonicelli writes: So it appears that while al-Assad is emboldened and determined to wipe out the revolution and stay in power as his dad would have done, even stepping up the killings as his many domestic and international opponents are roused to stop him, that might all be the last ditch effort of a desperate dictator…Let’s hope his targets smell his fear and respond in kind with all the measures available to vindicate the Arab Spring. – Shadow Government

Egypt

Saleh is moving to dispel fear among liberals and secularists that Islamists will tilt the nation firmly toward sharia law. The Brotherhood is devout, but in recent weeks has shown a degree of political pragmatism and an understanding that Egypt’s deep economic and social problems should not be obscured by religious battles over whether tourists can wear thongs in Sharm el Sheik. – Los Angeles Times

Yemen

At least four fighters from a Sunni Salafi Islamist group were killed in heavy clashes in northern Yemen on Thursday with Shi’ite rebel fighters, a spokesman for the Islamist group said. – Reuters

Sasha Gordon writes: If a political solution in Sana’a is not accompanied by a resolution of the crisis in Taiz, Yemen’s leaders are likely to continue to be distracted from confronting the threat that poses the most immediate danger to the U.S. – AEI’s Critical Threats Project

North Africa

It was not fear of revolution but of a coup d’état by his once-trusted inner circle of security officials that prompted Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali to leave Tunisia and fly to Saudi Arabia a year ago, the son of his former security chief has claimed. – Financial Times

Libya expects the International Criminal Court to agree that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the most prominent son of Libya’s late leader, can be tried in Libya, where he could face the death penalty, the justice minister said on Thursday. – Reuters

Iraq

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday asking that Iraq pay for the cost of the large U.S. embassy in Baghdad. – DEFCON Hill

Israel

Israel Thursday called on computer hackers not to take the law into their own hands to avenge attacks on Israeli credit card companies, and said the authorities were capable of countering all cyber threats. – Reuters

Israel’s top court has upheld a law denying citizenship to Palestinians married to Israelis, with one judge saying it helped the Jewish state fend off “national suicide”. – Reuters

Turkey

A lawyer for the former head of Turkey’s armed forces, General Ilker Basbug, appealed on Thursday against his detention on charges of trying to overthrow the government, state news agency Anatolian said. – Reuters

Asia

Afghanistan

Pentagon officials went to lengths Thursday to avert damage to the U.S. war effort from a video that shows a group of Marines urinating on militants’ corpses. – Wall Street Journal

The Taliban ruled out recognizing the Afghan Constitution or the “stooge Kabul administration” of President Hamid Karzai, even as they open negotiations with the U.S., underscoring the challenges faced by the budding peace effort. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The Afghan Taliban is ready to exchange prisoners with the United States and is “optimistic” about engaging in peace talks after it opens its office in Qatar, the militant group’s spokesman said this week. – Washington Times

Jackson Diehl writes: A more honest formulation of the administration’s position might be: Since U.S. and NATO forces are committed to ending combat operations in Afghanistan in less than three years, a political settlement is the only way out. The problem is that this logic contains the seeds of its own undoing. If the Taliban knows Western forces are leaving, it has no incentive to settle — but negotiations will allow it to survive until then. – Washington Post’s PostPartisan

Pakistan

President Asif Ali Zardari returned Friday from a surprise visit to the United Arab Emirates as lawmakers framed a resolution designed to bolster the political authorities at a time of sharpening tension with the powerful military that has also drawn in the judiciary. – New York Times

The Obama administration says it hopes Pakistan will resolve a deepening political crisis in a way that strengthens the civilian government. – Associated Press

A second drone strike in two days killed six militants in North Waziristan in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border on Thursday, intelligence officials said, further marking the resumption of the U.S. campaign paused for almost two months. – Reuters

Josh Rogin reports: Mansoor Ijaz, the main figure in the “Memogate” scandal that is rocking the highest levels of the Pakistani political establishment, told his U.S. go-between Gen. Jim Jones in a private e-mail that there were three people who “prepared” the now-infamous memo, not just former Pakistani Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani. – The Cable

North Korea

North Korea said on Thursday that it would place the body of Kim Jong-il on permanent display in a Pyongyang mausoleum and install his statues, portraits and memorial towers across the country. – New York Times

North Koreans who did not properly mourn the death of their “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il will now be punished, the Daily NK reported Wednesday. The punishment applies to all those who did not seem genuine or profuse enough in their crying. – Washington Post’s blogPost

North Korea has taken another step to bolster its international digital presence with the launch of an English-language website of the country’s main newspaper. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

China

A Chinese dissident author who published a controversial book about China’s Premier Wen Jiabao has gone into self-imposed exile in the U.S., suggesting a change of tactics by Chinese authorities who last year prevented him and other activists from leaving the country. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Foxconn Technology, a major supplier to several electronics giants, said on Thursday that it had resolved a pay dispute with scores of workers at one of its factories in central China after a large protest that involved threats from some workers to commit suicide. – New York Times

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to the Middle East, which begins on Saturday, is intended to boost energy ties with countries that are key oil exporters as well as U.S. partners, while the U.S. puts pressure on Beijing to scale back its imports of Iranian crude. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

FPI Director of Democracy and Human Rights Ellen Bork writes: In attacking both Professors Chung and Sing, Communist Chinese officials obviously see a connection between the pro-democracy movement in the territory and the way Hong Kong’s people see themselves. In Taiwan, a distinctly Taiwanese identity has developed that is to Beijing’s great frustration irrevocably committed to democracy.  But for Beijing, Taiwan and Hong Kong are not simply territorial issues but also, and perhaps more importantly, ideological and even existential ones. A Hong Kong civic identity tied to democracy is a huge problem for Beijing and it is responding by attacking all of those who are willing to defend it. – The Weekly Standard Blog

Taiwan

Hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese businessmen and women in China are set to fly home this weekend to vote for their next president, underscoring the neck-and-neck contest that has put a question mark over the future of the island’s relations with Beijing. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

When voters here choose a president and a new legislature on Saturday, their decisions will also determine whether Taiwan pulls the plug on a state-backed nuclear power industry that provides the country with a fifth of its electricity. – New York Times

Su Chi writes: Long locked in indignant isolation but enormously proud of their democratic achievements, Taiwan’s people must now accept that democracy endows them with greater responsibility for regional stability…If either side or the United States mishandles the relationship by attempting a diplomatic or even military shortcut, it could spell disaster for all parties. But if China and Taiwan establish a sufficient degree of mutual trust, Taiwan can remain an indispensable ally for the United States and a model for China’s future. – New York Times

Japan

Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, removed his gaffe-prone defense minister on Friday as part of a cabinet reshuffling aimed at winning support for a tax increase to trim his nation’s soaring debt. – New York Times

India

Sadanand Dhume writes: Mr. Singh has his work cut out for him. Either he begins finally to deliver on reforms or he gets used to the idea that history will remember him not as someone who rescued India’s economy, but as the leader who prevented it from attaining its full potential. A large privatization and another go at a failed effort to invite large stores such as Wal-Mart to invest in Indian retail may be a good place to start. The usual litany of excuses about coalition politics and impending state elections simply won’t cut it. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Southeast Asia

In its most significant prisoner release to date, Myanmar on Friday freed a number of prominent political activists in a step toward meeting the demands of Western nations as they move toward more cooperative relations with the country’s new military-backed civilian government, according to news reports. – New York Times

Malaysian leader Najib Razak pointed to the acquittal this week of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as evidence he’s serious about political reforms, even inviting an election battle that could propel him out of power. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has moved to relaunch his political career with calls for early elections and comprehensive economic reforms, only days after being acquitted by the High Court on charges of —. – Financial Times

The U.S. embassy in Thailand warned on Friday that “foreign terrorists” could be looking to conduct attacks in areas of the capital, Bangkok, frequented by tourists and told its citizens in a message to be careful. – Reuters

Kazakhstan

Snap elections in Kazakhstan on Sunday will bring an end to one-party rule, adding at least a veneer of greater democracy to an oil-rich republic which in recent weeks has seen its political stability under strain. – Financial Times

Russia

Ignoring the political upheaval that has shaken Russia over the past month, Vladimir Putin’s presidential campaign unveiled a hefty new Web site Thursday that promises a fistful of important reforms but sidesteps the complaints that have drawn tens of thousands of protesters onto the streets. – Washington Post

Capital flight from Russia more than doubled last year amid European sovereign-debt worries and political instability at home, with almost $38 billion leaving the country in the fourth quarter alone, the largest quarterly outflows since the 2008 financial crisis. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

United Kingdom

British officials announced on Thursday that they had ordered a criminal investigation into the role played by MI6, the country’s secret intelligence service, in operations that led to two Libyan opponents of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi being delivered to Libyan jails, where, they said, they were tortured by Colonel Qaddafi’s secret police. – New York Times

Hungary

A Hungarian government official accused the U.S. embassy in Budapest of openly interfering with the country’s domestic politics by making inquiries about investigations against members of Hungary’s former government. – WSJ’s Emerging Europe

Belarus

Jailed former Belarusian presidential candidate Mikola Statkevich has been given a three-year prison term in a “closed regime,” RFE/RL’s Belarus Service reports. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

NATO

NATO’s ability to defend member nations against aggression by a conventional enemy force may be atrophying, Norway’s Defense Minister said Jan. 13. – Defense News

Americas

United States of America

As tensions heat up between Iran and the West, the prospect of a big spike in oil prices to as high as $200 a barrel suddenly looms over the U.S. economy, threatening to overshadow what have been promising signs of gathering strength. – Washington Times

Guatemala

Former general Otto Perez Molina takes office as Guatemala’s new president Saturday with a top priority of ending a long-standing U.S. ban on military aid imposed over concerns about abuses during the Central American country’s 36-year civil war. – Associated Press

Haiti

Haitians marked the second anniversary on Thursday of a devastating earthquake that ravaged their impoverished Caribbean country as their president held out new promises to rebuild the shattered land. – Reuters

Africa

Somalia

Piracy off the coast of Somalia may be a global scourge costing $12bn a year, but a new report argues ransoms deliver much-needed development to the failed state. – Financial Times

An al Qaeda-affiliated Somali militant group said Thursday that it took several hostages in a raid in northern Kenya that killed at least six people. – Associated Press

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday it had suspended food distribution to 1.1 million people in central and southern Somalia after Islamist militants blocked deliveries in parts of the famine-hit country. – Reuters

South Sudan

South Sudan, born six months ago in great jubilation, is plunging into a vortex of violence. Bitter ethnic tensions that had largely been shelved for the sake of achieving independence have ruptured into a cycle of massacre and revenge that neither the American-backed government nor the United Nations has been able to stop. – New York Times

Nigeria

Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Nigeria’s major cities on Thursday, chanting for President Goodluck Jonathan to resign, as a showdown over how Africa’s biggest oil producer spends its revenue escalated into a fourth day. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Rwanda

Rwanda has seized on a French probe into the cause of the plane crash that killed a former president and triggered the country’s 1994 genocide as proving that President Paul Kagame was not involved. – Financial Times

About Courtney Messerschmidt

Is a personae for the contact, co creator, poster girl and correspondent of GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD a collective of diplopolititary junkies. A real girl, she is an annoying, arrogant, audacious, bloodthirsty, conniving, cool, cruel, deceitfully sweet, discombobulated, flirtacious, jealous, hedonistic, lazy, machiavellian, manipulative, militaristic, self absorbed, self aggrandizing, self centered, semi charmed, semi retarded, shallow, spoiled, stuck up, high maintainance ne'er do well pixie with a penchant for immense libraries, depleting strategic cash reserves and wrecking cars every 10 months. Super saavy history and current events. My superior intellect and easy going smartassticness armed with a chaotic emotion meter gave me a formidable ability to be independently dependent. Currently exiled in Hillbillyland, I wield a vocabulary far above my tiny tiny weight class and have traveled widely including Europe, the Middle East and Alabama. I like Am Ex, Carte Blanche, Discover, Mastercard, Ray Bans, Visa and devouring American Dollars in alarming quantities.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *