Envoy Announces Tentative Cease-Fire in Syria, but Doubts Remain
Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times – October 24, 2012
Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy trying to broker a peace deal in Syria, announced on Wednesday a tentative cease-fire between the two sides to mark the main Muslim holiday of the year, but numerous do-it-yourself aspects of the plan immediately called into question whether it would quiet any fighting.
In Cyberattack on Saudi Firm, US See Iran Firing Back
Nicole Perlroth, New York Times – October 23, 2012
On Aug. 15, more than 55,000 Saudi Aramco employees stayed home from work to prepare for one of Islam’s holiest nights of the year — Lailat al Qadr, or the Night of Power — celebrating the revelation of the Koran to Muhammad. That morning, at 11:08, a person with privileged access to the Saudi state-owned oil company’s computers, unleashed a computer virus to initiate what is regarded as among the most destructive acts of computer sabotage on a company to date. The virus erased data on three-quarters of Aramco’s corporate PCs — documents, spreadsheets, e-mails, files — replacing all of it with an image of a burning American flag.
When Ike Faced Down a Rising Nuclear Power
Evan Thomas, CNN – October 24, 2012
It is possible, even likely, that the most important decision either President Obama or a President Romney would make in the next four years is whether to bomb Iran and its nuclear facilities. The debates were never likely to tell us much that would be useful about how either man would make that decision. No amount of stage presence or posturing can reveal the deepest recesses of the presidential mind — the place where, especially in the age of mass destruction, decisions about going to war must be made.
4 Children Killed in Afghanistan Firefight
Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times – October 23, 2012
A firefight that raged for an hour between international forces and the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan killed four children who were in the area grazing their sheep and goats, local officials said. The international forces apologized for the episode Tuesday and said an investigation was under way, but because bullets were flying from both sides, the international military stopped short of taking responsibility for the children’s deaths, which occurred on Sunday.
Iran Weighs Tougher Line in Stalled Nuclear Talks
AP, NPR – October 24, 2012
Iranian officials say the country is considering a harder line in nuclear talks with world powers: Threatening to step up uranium enrichment unless the West makes immediate concessions on sanctions. The proposed demands — outlined by senior Iranian officials this week — have not yet been adopted as a negotiating policy, but they suggest economic pressures have pushed Iran to consider ultimatum-style tactics to seek relief from sanctions.
White House Says No Bilateral Talks Scheduled for Iran
Reuters, October 23, 2012
President Barack Obama is open to having bilateral talks with Iran about its nuclear program, but the United States has not scheduled any negotiations, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday.
Candidates Struggle to Find Unique North Korea Policies
The Korea Herald – October 24, 2012
All three major presidential candidates are promising to seek dialogue and build trust with North Korea, but they differ over priorities and conditions. The three pledge more policy flexibility based on the shared understanding that President Lee Myung-bak’s strict, reciprocal policy has borne little fruit and there needs to be a turnaround in the soured inter-Korean ties. But experts warned against populism, noting that the next president could have difficulty in policy coordination with his or her U.S. counterpart. In a tight race ahead of the November election, Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney alike are expected to maintain a tough stance on Pyongyang.
Why it Matters: Missile Defense
Desmond Butler, AP – October 23, 2012
Missile technology is proliferating. It remains unclear how quickly foes such as Iran and North Korea could develop a capability to strike the United States with missiles, but the U.S. says Iran is already capable of hitting Europe. The United States is spending nearly $10 billion a year on missile defense when military budgets are stretched. But the programs have yet to prove that they can reliably knock long-range missiles out of the sky and protect the U.S. from emerging threats.