US targets Iran – via Iraq
Barbara Slavin, Asia Times – July 14, 2011
WASHINGTON – Reviving United States-Iran friction over Iraq may have more to do with deteriorating relations over Iran’s nuclear program than with uncertainty over US troop levels in Iraq beyond the end of this year. In recent weeks, a chorus of US officials has accused Iran of providing lethal weapons to Iraqi Shi’ite militias that have targeted US soldiers and caused a spike in US death tolls. United States accusations are hard if not impossible to prove given the fact that Iraq is awash with weapons and smuggling across the border with Iran is rampant.
Iran rejects U.S. claim it is supporting insurgents in Iraq
CNN – July 13, 2011
Tehran, Iran (CNN) — Iran’s defense minister rejected U.S. allegations that the country was helping insurgents in neighboring Iraq, saying Wednesday that such “baseless claims” demonstrate U.S. failure in the Middle Eastern country.Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi’s comments were reported by the semiofficial Fars News Agency.His comments came after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta became the latest U.S. official to reiterate that Iraq needs to crack down on armed factions that have been targeting U.S. troops with Iranian-supplied weapons.
Iran, IAEA agree to clarify misunderstandings
Moneycontrol – July 13, 2011
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has said that Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency have agreed to increase cooperation in regard to Iran’s nuclear program in order to clear up misunderstandings. Salehi made the remarks in an interview with reporters after a meeting with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna yesterday.
N.K. calls for S. Korean plans to dispose of Geumgang assets
Shin Hae-in and Song Sang-ho, Korea Herald – July 13, 2011
North Korea on Wednesday demanded that the South present its plans to dispose of the Seoul-owned assets at the Mount Geumgang resort by July 29, according to a government official. The North also said that should the South make no response by then, it would unilaterally dispose of the assets held by South Koreans. The demand came as a 10-member delegation of Seoul government officials and investors engaged in a heated discussion with North Korean officials for about an hour from 11:45 a.m. at the scenic resort on the east coast of the communist state.
Reuters Putting A Satellite Dish In North Korea
Huffington Post – July 11, 2011
Reuters has announced plans to partner with North Korea’s state media agency KCNA to access news video from the country via satellite. The company said in a statement, “The Reuters News Agency will be the first international news organization to have a full time satellite dish in North Korea, delivering clean news video content in addition to the text and pictures covered by a previous agreement – a significant benefit to broadcasters across the globe.” Reuters will also be providing editorial training and KCNA is expected to facilitate regular visits to North Korea by senior Reuters journalists.
N.Korean officials granted Japan visa for OCA meeting
Jeong Nam-ku, Hankyoreh – July 13, 2011
Three North Korean officials entered Japan Tuesday following the Japanese government’s issuance Monday of visas for five officials hoping to attend a general meeting of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) in Tokyo on Thursday. This marks the first time the Japanese government had admitted North Koreans since October 2006 measures barring their entry.
Assassination in Afghanistan Creates a Void
Alissa J. Rubin and Scott Shane, New York Times – July 12, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the powerful half brother of Afghanistan’s president, was assassinated Tuesday, removing from the political scene a divisive power broker who was accused of corruption and alienated the American military, but whose connections and ruthlessness made him a critical force in volatile southern Afghanistan. The death of Mr. Karzai, who effectively ruled much of the country’s southern tier from Kandahar, sent tremors through the country’s political establishment and raised questions about whether tenuous security gains made by the influx of American forces in the south could hold.
Panetta Says Defeat of Al Qaeda Is ‘Within Reach’
Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times – July 9, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who arrived in Kabul on Saturday, said the United States was “within reach of strategically defeating Al Qaeda” and that the American focus had narrowed to capturing or killing 10 to 20 crucial leaders of the terrorist group in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. They were Mr. Panetta’s first public remarks in his new post and among the most positive from a senior American national security official about the decade-old war against the terrorist organization, founded by Osama bin Laden, that was responsible for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Pakistan: U.S. Missiles Kill 42
Associated Press – July 13, 2011
Four United States missile strikes in northwestern Pakistan in less than 24 hours killed at least 42 people, Pakistani intelligence officials said Tuesday. The attacks indicate the White House has no intention of stopping its drone program even though the attacks have caused tension with Pakistan.
France Reauthorizes Libya Bombing Campaign While Hinting at Negotiations
Scott Sayare, New York Times – July 12, 2011
PARIS — Lawmakers here on Tuesday reauthorized France’s participation in the NATO-led bombing campaign in Libya against the forces of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, while French officials said they were increasingly optimistic about the possibility of a negotiated end to the conflict.
With Blunt, Salty Talk, Panetta Era Begins
Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times – July 12, 2011
ERBIL, Iraq — The received wisdom in Washington when Leon E. Panetta took Robert M. Gates’s place as defense secretary was that the Pentagon was exchanging one low-intensity Beltway professional for another. Well, yes and no. Mr. Panetta may be Mr. Gates’s friend and a longtime creature of the capital, but his inaugural trip to Iraq and Afghanistan this week and last proved that in substance and style — from a relentless focus on military intelligence and quashing Al Qaeda to salty remarks that left his aides scrambling to provide him cover — he is another species entirely. A new era at the Pentagon has begun.