Iran Returns Sanction Fight to Gulf Shipping Lanes
Brian Murphy, Associated Press – July 24, 2012
Iranian commanders and political leaders — facing an increasing squeeze from international sanctions — have sharply stepped up threats and defiant statements in recent weeks over the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint at the mouth of the Gulf that is the route for one fifth of the world’s oil. While it appears unlikely that Iran is ready to risk an almost certain military backlash by trying to close Hormuz — which is jointly controlled with Oman — the latest flurry from Tehran shows that Iranian authorities see the strait as perhaps their most valuable asset in brinksmanship over tightening sanctions and efforts to resume nuclear talks with world powers.
Netanyahu’s ex-deputy appears to dissent on Iran
Allyn Fisher-Ilan, Reuters – July 23, 2012
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former top political partner put him on notice on Monday he would not back Israeli military “adventures”, comments that appeared to caution against possible action against Iran. Shaul Mofaz, now opposition leader, made the remarks less than a week after pulling his centrist Kadima party out of the governing coalition, where he served as vice premier for more than two months…Mofaz’s opposition increases the political risks for Netanyahu in his decision-making over Iran, especially if an operation went wrong and he faced any inquiry over it later.
High-level EU-Iran meeting on nuclear row: diplomats
AFP – July 24, 2012
Senior European and Iranian diplomats were set to meet in Istanbul on Tuesday to seek common ground on Tehran’s disputed nuclear drive, officials said… An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, told a press briefing in Tehran: “The goal is to bring the positions of Iran and the P5+1 closer together,” referring to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. “We must wait for the outcome of the meeting,” he added.
Syria Threatens Chemical Attack on Foreign Force
Neil Macfarquhar and Eric Schmitt, New York Times – July 23, 2012
Syrian officials warned Monday that they would deploy chemical weapons against any foreign intervention, a threat that appeared intended to ward off an attack by Western nations while also offering what officials in Washington called the most “direct confirmation” ever that Syria possesses a stockpile of unconventional armaments.
Iraq Insurgents Kill at Least 100 After Declaring New Offensive
Yasir Ghazi and Rod Nordland, New York Times – July 23, 2012
Al Qaeda in Iraq carried out one of the most coordinated and baldly sectarian series of attacks in years on Monday, aiming for Shiite targets with car bombs, checkpoint ambushes, and assaults on a military base and police officers in their homes in an offensive that its leadership appeared to equate with the Sunni-led uprising in neighboring Syria. The offensive by Al Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni extremist group, left at least 100 people dead, in what the Iraqi authorities described as an ambitiously staged sequence of 40 attacks that covered a broad area of the country. The attacks reinforced fears that the civil conflict in Syria, which has become increasingly sectarian in nature, now threatened to spill over the border.
House debate on defense bill spending finds one bit of bipartisan light
Walter Pincus, Washington Post – July 23, 2012
Is Congress a serious legislative body or not? Last week the House again flunked that test, this time with the fiscal 2013 defense appropriations bill.
Op-Ed: Getting real on defense cuts
Michael O’Hanlon, Politico – July 22, 2012
Despite the heat — or maybe because of it — Washington is abuzz with debates over future U.S. defense spending. Would sequestration in January require furloughs for Pentagon employees and unacceptable disruptions to weapons production efforts as well as job creation? Has the military done enough for deficit reduction? Is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney right that even the first round of defense cuts set up by the Budget Control Act and supported by President Barack Obama goes too far?