WOI World Brief

Iran

A senior Iranian official hinted on Monday that Iran would consider limits on its home-grown stockpile of enriched uranium, offering what seemed a modest compromise to partly meet Western concerns ahead of the planned resumption this week of nuclear talks with a group of six global powers. – New York Times

Iran’s foreign minister asked former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to “trust” him, when assuring the ex-premier that Tehran has no plans to develop nuclear weapons during Mr. Hatoyama’s much-criticized trip to Iran over the weekend, national broadcaster NHK reported. – WSJ’s Japan Real Time

A study by a Washington think tank that closely follows the Iranian nuclear program, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), concludes that Iran could have tested a nuclear trigger in a device at the disputed Iranian site of Parchin. – AOL Defense

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran would not agree to world powers imposing pre-conditions ahead of the resumption of nuclear talks later this week, Iranian media reported on Monday. – Reuters

The U.S. Navy said Monday it has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region amid rising tensions with Iran over its nuclear program – Associated Press

David Ignatius reports: As Iran prepares for talks about its nuclear program on Friday with the U.S. and other major powers, it faces an economic squeeze that is growing tighter by the month. – PostPartisan

Michael Singh writes: The United States holds a strong bargaining position going into Friday’s scheduled nuclear talks with Iran. An Israeli military attack seems imminent. U.S.- and European Union-led sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank and oil exports are wreaking havoc on the Iranian economy. And yet, despite these massive pressures on the Iranian regime, it is not Tehran but the United States that is signaling that it is prepared to make concessions — setting the stage for Washington’s unprecedented leverage to be squandered. – Washington Post

John Vinocur writes: In a world of dreams and miracles, the conversations, starting Saturday, would end with the mullahs renouncing their drive toward nuclear weapons, and the disappearance of a thunderhead of foreboding and grief. Reality says otherwise, three ways. – International Herald Tribune

Syria

Tension mounted further along the Turkish border with Syria on Tuesday, a day after deadly clashes between Syrian government forces and rebels spilled into Turkey for the first time. – New York Times

The events have raised concern that Syria’s sectarian conflict could drive a wedge between Turkey’s Sunni majority and the country’s Shiite sects. As record numbers of Syrian refugees have poured into Turkey in recent days, fleeing attacks from pro-government forces ahead of Tuesday’s United Nations-backed cease-fire deadline, the spectre of sectarian tensions also has stoked fears that this border city could see a replay of the violence that left hundreds dead in the region in the aftermath of a 1980 military coup. – Wall Street Journal

The Obama administration has made clear in closed-door meetings that it will not take additional measures to aid Syrian rebels, even as Bashir al-Assad escalates an already bloody civil conflict. – US News and World Report

As Syria’s crisis has shifted from peaceful demonstrations to unseat Bashar al-Assad to a more militarised conflict involving thousands of low-ranking defected soldiers and ordinary men who have taken up arms, it has raised the enthusiasm of jihadis for what they see as a potentially new battlefront. – Financial Times

Syrian troops shelled villages, fired across frontiers and were accused of massacres in the hours before a deadline on Tuesday that many doubt can usher in a U.N.-brokered ceasefire and halt a 13-month slide into all-out civil war. – Reuters

A military bombardment of a town in central Syria killed 35 people on Monday on the eve of a scheduled army withdrawal from urban areas, opposition activists said, dashing the prospects of a U.N.-brokered ceasefire taking hold. – Reuters

Syrian army bombardment has killed at least 115 people in the northern province of Idlib in the last two days, and troops also rounded up and shot 35 men during military operations in the region, two opposition activists said on Monday. – Reuters

A former army commander who now leads a military council trying to organize armed resistance to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said air strikes on forces spearheading his military crackdown would be the only way to avoid a protracted civil war. – Reuters

Russia urged the Syrian government on Tuesday to act “more decisively” to implement international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan but also said foreign states should use their influence on opposition groups to press for an immediate ceasefire. – Reuters

Editorial: A civil war is taking place in Syria. Mr. Obama may believe that by fleeing from leadership through figments such as the Annan plan, he is avoiding “militarization.” In fact, he is ensuring that thousands more people will die. – Washington Post

Editorial: Give the Annan mission credit for one thing: It is demonstrating again that without U.S. leadership the United Nations is useless in the face of the world’s determined thugs. Make that worse than useless, because its illusion of diplomatic progress serves as cover for the Assads of the world to do more killing. Your move, President Obama. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Radwan Ziadeh writes: Indeed, whenever it makes an agreement, Assad’s regime is always already setting up its rationale for noncompliance. That is why, if there is any hope of turning the tide, and of capitalizing on an unprecedented level of international unity and action on Syria, the U.N. must not only endorse a deadline for a ceasefire, as it has already done—it must craft contingency plans in the event that Assad continues to defy the will of the rest of the world. Otherwise, it’s not only the lives of Syrians and the region’s fragile stability that are at risk, but the future credibility of the international community. – The New Republic

North Africa

The six-month-old government of Tunisia cracked down with tear gas and batons Monday on thousands of protesters who filled a central artery of the capital in defiance of a new ban on demonstrations there. – New York Times

Egypt’s curious gallery of presidential candidates reveals how much the nation has changed yet how deeply it still echoes with voices connected to the repressive rule of deposed President Hosni Mubarak. – Los Angeles Times

Hosni Mubarak’s former vice president and spy chief said in comments published Monday that he would not attempt to “reinvent” the regime of his longtime mentor if he is elected president of Egypt. – Associated Press

An Egyptian court will hear a suit seeking to prevent Hosni Mubarak’s former intelligence chief and his last prime minister from running for the presidency, a judicial source said on Monday. – Reuters

Libya has halted a scheme to pay compensation to people who fought in last year’s revolt against Muammar Gaddafi because it was riddled with corruption and paying out cash to people who do not qualify. – Reuters

Gary Gambill writes: In Tunisia and Morocco, Islamists won a plurality of seats in recent elections.  Whether it proves to be a fleeting aberration or blankets the region with a new generation of theocratic tyrannies, however, the Islamist surge  underscores that the Bush administration’s reading of the political dynamics at work in Egypt and the broader Arab world was essentially correct, with one minor exception — the day of reckoning came sooner than anyone expected. – Foreign Policy

Gulf States

Even in a kingdom where police often materialize before a protest placard can be raised or a cry of dissent can be shouted, the uprisings across the region have inspired rumblings of discontent. – Los Angeles Times

A Kuwaiti writer will reportedly spend seven years in prison for making remarks on Twitter that offended Shiite Muslims, the latest in a string of sentences that have punished Kuwaitis for online talk. – LA Times’ World Now

Authorities in the UAE have detained six Emirati activists whose citizenship was revoked last December, after each refused to sign an undertaking to take on another nationality, their lawyer said on Monday. – Financial Times

A prominent Saudi rights activist, who has been on a hunger strike for almost a month to protest at his year-long detention, has also stopped drinking water, rights activists said, blaming authorities for the deterioration of his health. – Reuters

Seven Bahraini policemen were wounded, three of them seriously, when a home-made bomb exploded on Monday, an Interior Ministry spokesman said, during a protest near the capital calling for the release of an activist on a two-month hunger strike. – Reuters

Open Letter: The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) joined 15 other organizations [including the Foreign Policy Initiative] in penning a letter to President Barack Obama concerning the deteriorating health of human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. – POMED Wire

Yemen

The government of Yemen has agreed to closely monitor two Yemenis held by the U.S. military in Afghanistan if they are repatriated, and attorneys for the men asked the Pentagon on Monday to authorize the transfer of the two detainees. – Washington Post

An al-Qaida attack on a Yemeni army post in the south set off clashes that left 64 people dead on Monday and prompted local civilians to take up arms alongside the military to beat back the militants, said army officials and residents. – Associated Press

Iraq

Iraq’s fugitive vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, has arrived in Turkey, according to local news reports. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Israel

Israeli officials have told Egypt’s military leaders that Israel might strike against militants in the Sinai Peninsula if Egypt cannot stop them from firing rockets into the Jewish state, a leading Israeli newspaper reported Monday. – Washington Times

Afghanistan

Afghan judicial panels will review plans for and approve night raids by U.S. and Afghan forces against terror suspects in villages around the country, the Pentagon said Monday. – Washington Times

At least 11 Afghans were killed in a suicide blast near the airport in the western city of Herat on Tuesday in the latest spate of such incidents that coincide with the start of the “traditional” fighting season in Afghanistan. – Washington Post

Afghanistan’s government won’t have veto power over U.S. special forces missions under a new deal struck Sunday between Washington and Kabul, according to the Pentagon. – DEFCON Hill

Afghan education officials have found themselves embroiled in controversy after a record number of students failed in national university entry exams last week. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Afghan insurgents have so far shown no sign of planning a repeat of last year’s spring offensive against foreign and Afghan forces, preferring isolated attacks on small units and bases, a NATO spokesman said. – Reuters

Pakistan

Almost as soon as the bonhomie was over and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said over the weekend he would make his first official visit to Pakistan soon, reactions on both sides suggested how challenging the task remains. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Acid is the preferred weapon of vindictive men against women accused of disloyalty or disobedience. Common in several Asian countries, acid attacks in Pakistan grew sharply in number in 2011, to 150 from 65 in 2010, although some advocacy workers said the increase stemmed largely from better reporting. – New York Times

Koreas

North Korea said on Tuesday that it had completed preparations to launch a satellite into orbit, as South Korea and other Asian nations told their airlines and ships to change their routes to avoid the North Korean rocket. – New York Times

The Obama administration on Monday defended its decision to negotiate with North Korea as the reclusive regime prepared for a long-range rocket launch and a possible nuclear bomb test — two actions that fly in the face of the deal the United States struck recently with leaders there. – Washington Post

The winner of Wednesday’s race for a seat in parliament from this South Korean coastal city could change the face of the country’s more important presidential race at the end of the year. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

An unfolding political scandal ahead of Wednesday’s parliamentary elections has many South Koreans drawing comparisons to Watergate: illicit surveillance, an attempted cover-up, destruction of evidence, arrests of people connected to the president — and questions over what the president himself may have known. – New York Times

The White House is pushing back against the media for what it sees as oversaturated coverage of this week’s forthcoming North Korean missile test. – Politico

The United States urged North Korea on Monday not conduct a nuclear test or launch a satellite and called on China to exert its influence over its neighbor to try to ward off such “provocative actions.” – Reuters

South Korea’s liberal opposition, bolstered by the under-40s and power of social media, could spring a surprise win in this week’s parliamentary elections despite opinion polls that show it tied with the ruling conservatives. – Reuters

Michael Auslin writes: In the large scheme of things, North Korea is a deeply unimportant, tiny little country. It has eaten up billions of U.S. dollars for decades; consumed hundreds of thousands of man-hours of intelligence gathering, analysis, political decision making, and negotiation; and forced us to permanently deploy tens of thousands of U.S. troops. And yet, if we all went home tomorrow, except to reach out and smack down the regime when it misbehaved, nothing material would change in northeast Asia. It’s time to reframe our game. – The Corner

China

If the Chinese official media are to be believed, waves of web users have been frantically clicking the “like” icon in response to Beijing’s disciplinary actions against websites and microblogs for spreading false information. – WSJ’s China Real Time Report

The Chinese military has added sea-based unmanned aircraft to its rapidly growing arsenal, with the first of those aircraft already deployed. – DEFCON Hill

U.S. government and private analysts missed the emergence of significant military developments by China that caught intelligence agencies by surprise, according to a congressional commission report. – Washington Free Beacon

Reports of a Chinese purchase of advanced Russian fighter aircraft are raising new questions about the true levels of defense spending in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), while also highlighting concerns about the military standing of Taiwan in a potential cross-strait conflict. – Washington Free Beacon

A Chinese court sentenced a disabled lawyer renowned for defending people evicted from their homes to two years and eight months in prison on Tuesday for causing a disturbance and fraud, Beijing’s latest use of a controversial law to stifle dissent. – Reuters

Southeast Asia

The Malaysian government introduced a new security law in Parliament on Tuesday that would limit detentions of people suspected of terrorism or security offenses to 28 days. – New York Times

Last July, Malaysian activists –collectively known as the Bersih 2.0 movement– brought tens of thousands of people to the streets of Kuala Lumpur, demanding electoral transparency. – WSJ’s Southeast Asia Real Time

A Chinese general warned the Philippines that it was facing its “last chance” to resolve simmering territorial disputes in the potentially resource-rich South China Sea, a rhetorical uptick in what has emerged as the region’s hottest potential military flashpoint. – WSJ’s China Real Time Report

Days after the Marines set up shop at their new base in Australia, the service plans to boost their presence in another key Asia Pacific country in the near future. – DEFCON Hill

David Cameron will make a historic trip to Myanmar on Friday, becoming the first major western leader to visit the country since the west imposed sanctions on its military regime in the late 1990s. – Financial Times

Interview: In his first official visit to the U.S., Ng Eng Hen, Singapore’s defense minister, called for more military-to-military exercises between the U.S. and Asia-Pacific nations, using the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a key facilitator. – Defense News

Russia

Russia has fielded long-range antimissile units in the Kaliningrad region, a territory that borders NATO members Lithuania and Poland, the Associated Press reported on Friday – Global Security Newswire

Security forces killed at least six suspected militants in a province bordering Russia’s volatile North Caucasus on Tuesday, Russian news agencies reported. – Reuters

United Kingdom

The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Britain could legally deport five suspects wanted in the United States on terrorism charges, but said they should not be extradited before further legal procedures were completed. – New York Times

Poland

Two years after a plane crash in Russia killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of government officials and military leaders, some Poles refuse to accept Polish and Russian investigators’ conclusions that the crash was caused by weather and pilot error. – LA Times’ World Now

Ukraine

Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, serving a seven-year jail sentence on abuse-of-office charges, on Monday dismissed new allegations against her of involvement in the murder of a parliament deputy almost 16 years ago. – Reuters

Mexico

Videos taken by a cellphone allegedly show Elizondo, known variously as “the Raven” or “the Arab,” and his team of highwaymen dancing in the middle of the road to booming reggaeton music, as they use knives to carve fingers and ears off four dead men, who were bound and shot in the head. – Washington Post

Mexico’s ruling party overhauled its candidate’s struggling presidential campaign on Monday, unveiling a new team and promising a more aggressive strategy to woo undecided voters after a string of public missteps. – Reuters

Mexico’s presidential front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto pledged on Monday to create a new police force made up of former soldiers to fight drug gangs and said ending violence would take priority over battling narcotics trafficking if he wins the election. – Reuters

Cuba

Mobile phones, once banned from Cubans’ hands, are changing the face and pace of the Cuban dissident movement…[I]n the past year, Cuba’s government has signed deals with several companies that allow foreigners to add minutes to prepaid Cuban cellphone accounts from abroad. – Wall Street Journal

South America

When President Obama arrives in Colombia for a hemispheric summit this weekend, he will hear Latin American leaders say that the U.S.-orchestrated war on drugs, which criminalizes drug use and employs military tactics to fight gangs, is failing and that sweeping changes need to be considered. – Washington Post

A Costa Rican diplomat in Venezuela was kidnapped Sunday night and is being held for ransom, authorities said Monday, the latest high-profile abduction in a country struggling with mounting crime rates. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Britain is chasing £45m of debt owed by the Argentinian government that was lent to the country’s military junta in 1979 and used, in part, to buy weapons that were later used to invade the Falkland Islands. – Financial Times

No sooner had Colombia’s main rebel force released the last 10 soldiers and police officers it held as political prisoners than President Juan Manuel Santos deemed the gesture insufficient to merit peace talks. – Associated Press

Analysis: Dilma Rousseff’s first visit to Washington as Brazil’s president was certainly cordial enough…But the friendliness belied a sense that the United States, whose once-dominant sway in Latin America is ebbing, and Brazil, the hemisphere’s rising power, still do not see eye to eye on a range of important issues, from Middle East diplomacy to trade with Cuba and Brazil’s ambitions of obtaining a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. – New York Times

Jamie Daremblum writes: The Reagan-era civil wars may now seem like ancient history, but Latin American democracy is still being threatened by populist autocrats. Unfortunately, when asked in 2008 about the dictatorial Hugo Chávez, Lula hailed him as “Venezuela’s best president in the last 100 years.” Indeed, Brazil’s coziness with Chávez and the Castro brothers remains a huge impediment to stronger relations with the United States. – The WS

West Africa

Suspected members of Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram have killed four people and a large undetonated bomb was found in Kano on Monday, authorities said, a day after at least 36 people were killed in a car bomb near a church in northern Kaduna. – Reuters

Members of Mali’s Arab community in the northern town of Timbuktu have formed an armed group to fill the void left by the army’s retreat, adding to a host of factions already involved and extending the ethnic dimension of Mali’s conflict. – Reuters

Somalia

At least 12 people died in a bomb attack in Somalia on Monday targeting Somali and Ethiopian troops in a busy market in the southern city of Baidoa, witnesses and officials said. – Reuters

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.
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