"The administration' lack of communication with the Saudis and other Arab allies is mystifying at a time when the U.S. is exploring new policy initiatives, such as working with the Russians on dismantling chemical weapons in Syria and negotiating a possible nuclear deal with Iran. Those U.S. policy initiatives are sound, in the view of many analysts (including me), but they worry the Saudis and others—making close consultation all the more important," writes David Ignatius in the Washington Post.
"In a lawyerly way, the Obama administration has isolated the nuclear issue from the broader context of Iran's behavior in the region. A new dawn in the history of the theocracy has been proclaimed, but we will ultimately discover that Iran's rulers are hellbent on pursuing a nuclear-weapons program while trying to rid themselves of economic sanctions," writes Fouad Ajami in the Wall Street Journal.
"By keeping America out of Syria, President Obama may have preserved his ability to intervene in Iran. I believe that he does not want Iran to gain possession of a nuclear weapon; whether he can actually prevent this from happening is another story. But he has a greater chance of escaping that fate if he avoids over-extension in other parts of the Middle East," writes Jeffrey Goldberg for Bloomberg.
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North Korea Increases Activity at Nuclear Test Site
This CFR Backgrounder explains the Six Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear program.
CHINA: A campaign by a Guangdong newspaper calling for the release of detained journalist Chen Yongzhou continued for a second day despite a media gag order (SCMP).
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Memos Show U.S.-Pakistan Agreement on Drones
Top Pakistani officials have secretly endorsed CIA drone strikes in the tribal region despite repeatedly denouncing the program, according to top-secret documents (WaPo). The files describe strikes and casualty counts, asserting that no civilians were harmed.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Plans Protest over Morsi Trial
Supporters of Mohammed Morsi called for mass demonstrations on November 4 to protest the start of the deposed president's trial on charges of inciting murder (Reuters). The trial may further inflame tensions between the Brotherhood and Egypt's military rulers.