Iran is sending arms to Syria in violation of a UN Security Council resolution banning Iranian weapon exports, according to a report by a panel of UN sanctions-monitoring experts that was leaked to Reuters yesterday. The report cited three large shipments of Iranian weapons over the past year, two of which involved Syria. The report comes as Syria continues an almost fifteen-month crackdown on opposition forces, and as Iran negotiates with the international community over its controversial nuclear program.
"Given Iran's poor track record of honoring agreements, negotiations remain a gamble because they may never lead to an agreement, let alone one that can be sustained. Rather than focus on talks that may not produce a deal, then, the United States should place far more emphasis on supporting democracy and human rights in Iran," writes Patrick Clawson for ForeignAffairs.com.
"There's also political backlash against the talks in Iran, with key supporters of the increasingly marginalized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad now publicly criticizing the search by Iran's decision makers--Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei, and those who report to him--for a nuclear compromise in order to ease sanctions pressure," writes TIME's Tony Karon.
"Can a state really reject global norms and yet benefit from the prevailing mechanisms of international trade? And here lies Ayatollah Khamenei's dilemma: his revolutionary foreign policy and his quest for nuclear capability are increasingly at odds with the vulnerabilities of his state," writes CFR's Ray Takeyh in this Financial Times op-ed.
Chinese Communist Vets Call for Security Chief's Ouster
A group of Chinese Communist Party veterans wrote an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao calling for the early dismissal of security chief Zhou Yongkang, citing his hard-line, neo-Maoist policies (BBC) and links to disgraced politician Bo Xilai.
AFGHANITSAN: Four Taliban insurgents wearing suicide bomb vests attacked the office of the governor of western Farah province (NYT) this morning, but were shot and killed by Afghan police officers before they could detonate their explosives. Six police officers and another employee of the governor's house were also killed during the confrontation.
Assad Dismisses Opposition in TV Interview
In a rare interview with Russian state television, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dismissed the fifteen-month-long uprising against his rule as insignificant, while attributing the ongoing violence in the country to foreign-backed mercenaries and terrorists (Guardian).
A brutal crackdown continues, the opposition resists a political solution, and a divided international community offers no new alternatives, says expert Peter Harling in this CFR Interview on the situation in Syria.
Congolese General Recruits More Child Soldiers
Congolese Gen. Bosco Ntaganda--indicted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes committed in 2003--has recruited 149 boy and teenaged soldiers since April (AP), according to a report by Human Rights Watch published yesterday.
Greece swore in a new caretaker government today, putting in place a technocratic cabinet (WSJ) that will be led by Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos, a senior judge. Greek political leaders were unable to form a government following elections earlier this month, and a fresh vote is scheduled for mid-June.
A team of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents assisted Honduran counternarcotics police during two firefights with cocaine smugglers in the Honduran jungle (NYT) this past month, U.S. and Honduran officials confirmed. The most recent incident led to the death of four bystanders, prompting Honduran anger at the U.S. mission.
Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney disagreed with the notion that any one bank is "too big to fail," and discussed U.S. debt and the unfolding eurozone crisis in an interview Wednesday.
U.S. voters' expectations for their personal financial situations have recovered from their low point of four years ago, according to Gallup, whose latest poll shows 63 percent now saying they expect to be better off a year from now.
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