U.S. Adds Sanctions on Tehran
Keith Johnson, Wall Street Journal – June 24, 2011
WASHINGTON—The U.S. imposed sanctions Thursday on the Iranian state airline and a ports operator for allegedly helping the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps move weapons to Tehran’s allies around the Middle East. The sanctions are the latest American bid to use economic pressure to try to weaken the Tehran regime, the main U.S. nemesis in the region. Top administration officials said Thursday’s action was targeted specifically at the Revolutionary Guard . . .
Iran Rift Deepens With Arrest of President’s Ally
J. David Goodman, New York Times – June 23, 2011
A close ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has been arrested, Iranian news agencies reported Thursday, a development that suggested the power struggle between the president and the country’s highest religious leader is deepening. Fars, a semiofficial state news agency, did not specify the reason for the arrest of the Ahmadinejad ally, Mohammed Sharif Malekzadeh, who resigned as deputy foreign minister this week, but a report by Mehr, another semiofficial agency, pointed to allegations of financial misdeeds.
Mr. Malekzadeh is believed to be the most senior Ahmadinejad associate to be arrested . . .
IAEA chief invited to Iran but wants concrete result
AFP – June 24, 2011
VIENNA — UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano said Friday he had been invited to visit Iran by the head of the country’s atomic organisation Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, but added he was awaiting clarification. “Dr. Abbassi invited me to Tehran,” Amano told journalists on the margins of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference here Friday. “I will consider visiting Tehran at an appropriate time but a constructive concrete result is needed,” he added.
Afghan, Pakistan presidents in Iran three-way summit
Agence France Presse – June 24, 2011
TEHRAN: The presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan arrived Friday in Tehran for a three-way summit with their Iranian counterpart and to attend an anti-terrorism conference, IRNA news agency reported. The summit to be attended by President Asif Ali Zardari, Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes as the United States announced that it will draw down by 33,000 its contingent of 99,000 troops in Afghanistan by the end of summer 2012.
China warns N. Korea against new attacks: reports
AFP – June 23, 2011
SEOUL — China has warned its ally North Korea against making any further attacks on South Korea following two deadly border incidents last year, the South’s President Lee Myung-Bak was quoted Friday as saying. Lee made the remarks during a lunch meeting Thursday with members of the parliamentary defence committee, Yonhap news agency and Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.
Obama extends national emergency against N. Korea
Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap News – June 23, 2011
WASHINGTON, June 23 (Yonhap) — U.S. President Barack Obama issued a public notice Thursday to extend the national emergency in relation to North Korea that provides a legal and administrative basis for sanctions against the nuclear-armed communist nation. On the basis of the national emergency declared in 2008 under the National Emergencies Act, the Obama administration slapped tougher sanctions on Pyongyang in April, including a ban on direct and indirect imports of North Korean goods.
Stopgap reforms to follow N. Korean leader’s China visit: experts
Sam Kim, Yonhap News – June 24, 2011
SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) — Following his secretive visit to China, the world’s second-largest economy and an indispensable political ally, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il will likely embark on a set of steps showing he is easing his country’s isolation, analysts said Thursday. Such moves, however, should not be taken as being tantamount to ones that can put an end to North Korea’s extreme poverty and nuclear ambitions, they said, because the regime is afraid of any real change of course that may undermine its odds of survival.
Karzai surrounding himself with narrow circle of advisers urging a shift from US to Iran
AP – June 23, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai is increasingly isolated and has surrounded himself with an inner circle of advisers who are urging him to move closer to Iran and Pakistan as the U.S. draws down its role in Afghanistan, several friends and aides tell The Associated Press. Their advice is echoed in Karzai’s anti-West rhetoric, which has heightened both in his public speeches and in private. He met recently with Iran’s defense minister, and constantly cautions against trusting the U.S. to have Afghanistan’s best interests at heart.
Obama’s Afghanistan Exit Plan Gets Mixed Reviews in Congress
Michael D. Shear, New York Times – June 23, 2011
President Obama’s top military and diplomatic aides will head to Capitol Hill on Thursday to explain his Afghanistan withdrawal to a Congress that is eager for the costly conflict to end but skeptical about the implications of bringing the troops home. Some Democratic lawmakers lashed out at the president on Wednesday night, saying his withdrawal plan was too timid. They said that the need for 100,000 troops in Afghanistan was over and that the United States should move more quickly to end the war.
Rethinking Civilian Assistance in Afghanistan
Desaix Myers, New York Times – June 23, 2011
With the Obama administration’s decision to begin reducing America’s military presence in Afghanistan, it is time to rethink the civilian effort there as well. The job of helping Afghans build a state with functioning public services and institutions answering to an engaged civil society is plenty hard. Pumping vast amounts of money quickly — $4 billion this year — through a corrupt and fragile government doesn’t make it easier. Nor do Washington’s expectations, micromanagement and sense of urgency.
The Way Out?
New York Times – June 22, 2011
Americans are impatient — and increasingly despairing — about the war in Afghanistan. After 10 years of fighting, more than 1,500 American lives lost and $450 billion spent, they need to know there is a clear way out. On Wednesday night, President Obama announced that American troops will soon begin to withdraw, but at a size and pace unlikely to satisfy many Americans.