Monday World

Iran

Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations said Friday that negotiations with the big powers over the disputed Iranian nuclear program had reached a “critical point,” implicitly raising the possibility of failure, because of the new regimen of harsh economic sanctions that have just been imposed on his country by the United States and European Union. – New York Times

On Sunday, the EU embargo on Iran’s oil exports began in earnest, halting the vast majority of imports into Europe, ending exemptions for contracts signed before 2012 and barring insurance for Iranian oil shipments. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

As a European Union oil embargo took effect Sunday, Iran was stepping up its efforts to offset the sanctions by bartering products with China and selling more refined-oil products such as gasoline to its neighbors – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Bedeviled by government mismanagement of the economy and international sanctions over its nuclear program, Iran is in the grip of spiraling inflation, which threatens to worsen with the imposition on Sunday of new international measures aimed at cutting Iran’s oil exports, its main source of income. – New York Times

A steep drop-off in China’s crude-oil imports from Iran earlier this year, which companies involved blamed on a contract dispute, has provided a face-saving way for Beijing to appease the U.S. even as it officially maintains opposition to U.S. sanctions against Tehran, analysts said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

As a European Union oil embargo took effect, a defiant Iran said Sunday that it was beginning a new round of war games that would involve firing missiles at models of foreign air bases. – Los Angeles Times

The White House on Sunday praised the European Union’s (EU) embargo on the importation of Iranian crude oil, raising pressure on Tehran over its nuclear energy program. – The Hill’s Global Affairs

Iran has accused the EU and US of seeking “tension” in their relations with Tehran over its nuclear programme, stressing it would not scale back its atomic ambitions a day after EU oil sanctions against the country came into effect. – Financial Times

Analysis: After three and a half years of attempting to halt Iran’s nuclear program with diplomacy, sanctions and sabotage, the Obama administration and its allies are imposing sweeping new sanctions that are meant to cut the country off from the global oil market. Many experts regard it as the best hope for forcing Iran to change its course. – New York Times

Syria

An international meeting on Syria’s crisis agreed to support the creation of a transitional body in Syria that would lead a United Nations-backed political transition, but left open whether and how President Bashar al-Assad would have to step aside. – Wall Street Journal

A plan by world powers for a Syrian political transition appeared doomed Sunday, with Bashar al-Assad’s regime interpreting the outcome as a fresh lifeline from Russia—its principal international backer—while the lack of any reference in the plan to Mr. Assad’s departure from office angered the Syrian opposition. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Turkey said Sunday that it had scrambled fighter jets along its increasingly tense border with Syria after Syrian helicopters were detected close to the two nations’ long frontier. – Los Angeles Times

Turkey on Sunday reiterated its position that Syria shot down its jet in international airspace, denying an article in The Wall Street Journal Saturday that cited U.S. officials who said the plane was most likely downed with shore-based antiaircraft guns over Syrian waters. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

[W]hile Turkey has made clear that it wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gone, analysts say that Ankara is still a long way from turning angry rhetoric into action. – Washington Post

[F]or the broad coalition of countries that want to see Assad gone and an end to a conflict that has left thousands of civilians dead, there is no satisfying explanation for [Russia’s] policy whose eventual downsides seem blindingly obvious. – Washington Post

Syria’s opposition on Friday reported the deadliest 24-hour period so far in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and said rebel fighters had seized two Syrian generals, including the highest-ranking officer to fall into insurgent hands. – New York Times

[T]he brutal crackdown on the opposition by President Bashar al-Assad’s government, with more than 10,000 killed since the uprising began in March 2011, has put the Palestinians in a difficult spot, forced to choose between the popular mood and their benefactor. – New York Times

At least 85 people were killed when a car bomb exploded during a funeral procession Saturday evening in the Syrian town of Zamalka, activists and human rights groups said. – LA Times’ World Now

The Pentagon does not see Turkey’s recent military buildup along its border with Syria as a precursor to war between the neighboring countries, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Friday. – DEFCON Hill

Syria’s main opposition group said nearly 800 people have been killed in violence across the country in the past week, which brought some of the bloodiest violence in the 16-month uprising against President Bashar Assad. – Associated Press

Editorial: The diplomats need to go beyond the jabberwocky so far and join forces behind a real endgame for Mr. Assad and this spreading war. – Washington Post

Elizabeth O’Bagy writes: The Syrian grassroots opposition has protested and fought the Assad regime for more than a year now, largely without tangible support from abroad. In areas that have effectively fallen from Assad’s control, these local and provincial committees have already become the de facto government. These committee leaders could very well be Syria’s future power brokers, and U.S. officials must get to know them now. If U.S. officials do not, they may find this promising new generation of Syrian leaders destroyed by both the Assad regime and radical Islamist movements, who will only carry Syria into a bloody and catastrophic civil war. – Foreign Policy

Egypt

Mohammed Morsi became Egypt’s first freely elected president on Saturday, in a daylong series of ceremonies that showcased the Islamist leader’s rise from persecuted opponent of a now-ousted regime to leader of the Arab world’s most-populous nation. – Wall Street Journal

President Mohammed Morsi faces a bitter fight with Egypt’s military leadership over cabinet posts in the next government after becoming the country’s first freely elected leader on Saturday. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Mohamed Morsi’s ascent was the culmination of a far longer journey, the 84-year quest for power by the once-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. And whatever the constraints on his authority or the challenges that lie ahead, the significance of the moment for a Middle East still struggling to find its way amid the tumult unleashed by the Arab Spring was lost on few. – Washington Post

An economic aide to Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s new Islamist president, has expressed confidence that the country can reach agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a $3.2bn loan once a new government has been formed. – Financial Times

North Africa

Hundreds of armed protesters on Sunday attacked the offices of Libya’s election commission in two cities, Benghazi and Tobruk, in anger over the way seats in next week’s planned election for a constituent assembly were distributed among the country’s regions. – New York Times

Thousands of unaccompanied children are streaming out of an isolated, rebellious region of Sudan, fleeing a relentless aerial assault and the prospect of famine. – New York Times

Leila ben Ali, wife of deposed Tunisian dictator Zine el Abidine ben Ali, gave a measured apology for any “mistakes” she may have committed and admitted Tunisians were denied political freedoms under her husband’s 23-year rule in her first interview since being driven out of Tunisia 18 months ago. – LA Times’ World Now

Egypt has seized a large weapons consignment, including Grad rockets, that had been smuggled from Libya and could have been headed to the Gaza Strip, according to news reports June 30. – AFP

Saudi Arabia

A U.N. Security Council committee is removing Saudi dissident Saad al-Faqih from the United Nations’ al Qaeda sanctions list, despite strong objections from Saudi Arabia, a U.N. diplomat said on Sunday. – Reuters

Yemen

A Saudi diplomat kidnapped by al Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen appealed to the Saudi king not to forget about him and meet his abductors’ demand for the release of women prisoners, in a new video posted on the Internet. – Reuters

Christopher Swift writes: Although drones don’t drive al Qaeda recruiting, policymakers must still balance the tactical benefits of targeted, proportional force with the risks of rapid military escalation and broadening executive powers. As they weigh their options, they should consider two lessons. First, as long as drones target legitimate terrorists, Yemenis grudgingly acknowledge their utility. And second, the more Yemenis perceive the United States as a serious partner, the less drones will pique their national pride. – Foreign Affairs’ Snapshots

Iraq

American-style malls, fixtures in most of Iraq’s wealthy Persian Gulf neighbors, have come late to war-torn Baghdad, but Iraqis are taking to them now like Valley Girls, as a consumer society fueled by the country’s booming oil profits begins to flourish here. – New York Times

A half year after the U.S. military left Iraq, dire predictions seem to be coming true: The country is mired in violence and the government is on the verge of collapsing. With no relief in sight, there’s growing talk of Iraq as a failed state as al-Qaida’s local wing staged near daily attacks that killed at least 234 people in June. – Associated Press

Israel

It’s clear that Israel’s military option is still very much on the table, despite the success of economic sanctions in forcing Iran into negotiations. – Washington Post

Afghanistan

The Obama administration imposed sanctions on a pair of informal money-exchange networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan on Friday in what officials described as the first use of the tactic to attack the financial underpinnings of Taliban militants who rely on the system to fund their insurgency. – Washington Post

The Afghan government’s plan to phase out private security firms has “increased the uncertainty over security” for U.S.-funded aid projects and increased the cost of guarding them, an audit released Friday by a U.S. government watchdog agency said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The United States is spending $92 million to build Afghanistan a new “Pentagon,” a massive five-story military headquarters with domed roofs and a high-tech basement command center that will link Afghan generals with their troops fighting the Taliban across the country. But when Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak asked for a bigger office in the building — a change that would cost about $300,000 — he got a firm “no” in response. – Washington Post

A man wearing an Afghan police uniform killed at least three service members from the NATO-led coalition in what appeared to be latest attack on Western forces by an Afghan ally, coalition and Afghan officials said on Monday. – New York Times

Insurgents made a determined attempt to “kill everyone with authority” in a district in eastern Afghanistan, storming government offices with a team of suicide bombers. The attackers were repelled, but 11 people were killed, Afghan officials said Saturday. – LA Times’ World Now

A group of defense analysts told the House Armed Services Committee on Friday that the plan to reduce the size of the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) to 230,000 was misguided, urging the Obama administration and NATO to change course. – DEFCON Hill

“All bets are off” in Afghanistan later this decade if a regime more corrupt than that of sitting chief executive Hamid Karzai is elected, says one U.S. military expert. – DOTMIL

Donor countries will ask Afghanistan to build up safeguards against corruption even as they pledge to channel more aid money through the government’s coffers, in a document that will be the centerpiece of a major aid conference next week. – Reuters

A Taliban emissary sat face-to-face this week with a senior Afghan government official responsible for peace talks in a rare high-level gathering between the bitter adversaries, an official said Saturday. – Associated Press

South Asia

India is facing an energy crisis that is slowing economic growth in the world’s largest democracy. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Pakistan’s refusal to let NATO access its ports and roads into Afghanistan has cost the U.S. Defense Department more than $2.1 billion in extra transportation costs to move supplies and equipment in and out of the country. – Defense News

A record number of Pakistanis consider the United States an enemy, according to a new survey from the Pew Global Attitudes Project. – DEFCON Hill

U.S. missiles fired from a drone in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border killed eight suspected militants early Sunday, officials said, as the controversial American strikes continue despite Islamabad’s persistent demands that they stop. – Associated Press

The United States and European Union have raised concerns over media freedom in Sri Lanka after police shut down two anti-government news websites, a move press groups said was intended to intimidate critics of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. – Reuters

China

The contrast between the message of collaboration brought by the commander, Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, and the absence of the Chinese in the naval exercise — which included China’s regional rivals, Russia and India, among its 22 participants — highlighted the wary relationship between the American and Chinese militaries as the United States seeks to reinforce its military presence in Asia and strengthen its regional alliances. – New York Times

American officials urged China on Friday not to censor its Internet after the government blocked access to the Bloomberg News Web site. The Chinese government had denied Web access to the financial news agency after an investigative article on massive wealth amassed by relatives of Xi Jinping, the man expected to become China’s president. – Washington Post

Huge crowds of protesters thronged the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon, hours after President Hu Jintao of China swore in a new chief executive and cabinet for the territory. – New York Times

China currently faces a “strategic opportunity” to remove restrictions on investment flows, a central bank official said Saturday, while stressing that opening up the capital account will be a gradual process. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

An ex-police chief whose shocking visit to a U.S. consulate led to the fall of a prominent Chinese politician has resigned from the national legislature, state media reported Saturday, a sign that he might be a step closer to formal arrest and trial. – Associated Press

Willy Lam writes: The Chinese Communist Party has begun to pursue a more aggressive foreign policy over the past few years. To some extent this is to be expected as the country’s economic and military clout grows substantially. But a key factor has so far been overlooked: The unprecedented influence of People’s Liberation Army generals in the formulation of foreign policy. – Wall Street Journal Asia (subscription required)

North Korea

China is quietly inviting tens of thousands of North Korean guest workers into the country in a deal that will provide a cash infusion to help prop up a teetering regime with little more to export than the drudgery of a desperately poor population. – Los Angeles Times

While Pyongyang has plenty of grandiose epithets for leader Kim Jong Eun’s mother, a copy of a North Korean documentary film obtained by JRT suggests the isolated regime has yet to decide on her actual proper name. – WSJ’s Korea Real Time

North Korea may have put fake versions of a new missile on display at a major military parade this year, U.N. sanctions experts said in a report. – AFP

East Asia

The unpopular government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda suffered another setback on Monday when the largest faction of his governing Democratic Party quit in protest over a proposed tax increase, leaving the party barely in control of Parliament’s lower house. – New York Times

Japan has agreed to purchase four Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters despite the cost of each jet jumping nearly $4 million from the price negotiated in December, a consequence of the Pentagon’s decision to trim overall production in the early stages. – Defense News

With the threat of a mass protest, the governor of Okinawa rejected a U.S. plan on July 1 to deploy Osprey military aircraft on the sub-tropic Japanese island chain amid safety concerns. – AFP

Taiwan decommissioned the last 20 of a fleet of aging missile boats on July 1 as part of ongoing efforts to modernize its military forces against former rival China, officials said. – AFP

Southeast Asia

The United States now has an ambassador to Burma for the first time in 22 years after the Senate confirmed President Obama’s nominee, Derek Mitchell, on Friday afternoon. – The Hill’s Global Affairs

Police in Myanmar have arrested 30 people in connection with the vigilante killing of 10 Muslims that helped spark days of sectarian violence in Rakhine state last month in which at least 80 people were killed and tens of thousands were displaced. – Reuters

Philippine President Benigno Aquino said on Monday he may ask the United States to deploy spy planes in the South China Sea to help monitor the disputed waters, a move that may reignite tension with its giant neighbour China. – Reuters

Russia

Nongovernmental organizations operating in Russia on grants from abroad could soon be officially branded as “foreign agents.” – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Analysis: Falling oil prices could trigger a prolonged slump in Russia that would lay bare the growing fiscal risks, threatening President Vladimir Putin’s election promise to increase wages and fanning public discontent. – Reuters

Steven Pifer writes: Congress is right to act on the Magnitsky bill. But it should not couple that with Jackson-Vanik graduation for Russia. Linkage only buries the message that Congress seeks to send. – The Hill’s Global Affairs

United States of America

Mitt Romney has assembled a foreign-policy platform rooted in the belief that adversaries such as Russia must be confronted for backsliding on democracy and that Israel must be supported in the face of common threats such as a nuclear-armed Iran. – Washington Times

Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in a rare public speech, warned that American military and financial weakness is creating a more dangerous and unstable world. – Washington Free Beacon

Eli Lake reports: At the Romney 2012 campaign, there’s a well-known mantra that drives much of the candidate’s strategy: Every day Romney talks about something besides the economy is a victory for President Obama. That maxim has left many of the foreign-policy wonks participating in the campaign feeling sidelined, and vying—often unsuccessfully—to make particular policy points that the candidate can take on the road, according to several people involved in the campaign. – The Daily Beast

Latin America

“I think this was a coup, a coup against democracy, a blow against the popular will,” Lugo told The Washington Post in a phone interview Friday from the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion. “This was a parliamentary coup, unjust because, in reality, none of my rights were respected, nor due process, nor the right to a defense.” – Washington Post

The Mercosur group of South American countries approved Venezuela’s membership to the trade bloc and suspended Paraguay until the country can hold new presidential elections scheduled for early next year. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

The party that ruled Mexico for decades with an autocratic grip appears to have vaulted back into power after 12 years in opposition, as voters troubled by a bloody drug war and economic malaise gave its presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, a comfortable victory on Sunday, according to preliminary returns and exit polls. – New York Times

Jose Cardenas writes: It is U.S. demand that fuels the Mexican drug trade and it is their product that blights our neighborhoods and poisons our youth. Yet a transfer of power in Mexico will necessitate a delicate diplomatic dance by the Obama administration to help keep the next government on the right path. The administration stumbled a bit trying to build a trusting relationship with the Calderón government. We need to get it right from the start this time around. – Shadow Government

Mali

The State Department’s top official for Africa on Friday shot down proposals to reunify the West African country of Mali by force following a rebellion by nomadic Tuaregs and Islamist militants. – The Hill’s Global Affairs

Ignoring international calls to halt their attacks, Islamist militants in Timbuktu continued to smash the mausoleums of Sufi saints on Sunday, witnesses said. – Reuters

East Africa

Masked gunmen sprayed bullets and hurled grenades at two churches in a northern town in Kenya on Sunday, killing at least 15 people and injuring several, police officials said. It was the latest in a series of attacks in this East African nation suspected of being carried out by al-Qaeda-linked militants from neighboring Somalia or their sympathizers. – Washington Post

Somali and Kenyan troops rescued four foreign aid workers held hostage inside Somalia, three days after they were seized from a refugee camp in neighboring Kenya, the armies said on Monday. – Reuters

Josh Rogin reports: The impending release of a highly critical report by the State Department’s Inspector General’s office prompted the sudden resignation Friday of U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration, according to administration and congressional sources. – The Cable

What has been most striking about Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state is at once how suited for the job she has proved to be and how improbable it once seemed, even to her. – New York 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.
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