Top of the Agenda: White House Disputes Report on Iran Nuclear Program
U.S. officials disputed Israeli Defense Chief Ehud Barak's claim that the U.S. has a new National Intelligence Estimate (CBS) indicating Iran has made considerable strides toward nuclear weaponization, a view similar to that of Israel. Barak later said he was not sure whether the report was "under the title NIE or under another title." U.S. officials said the United States still believes Iran is not on the verge of a nuclear weapon (Reuters), and that Tehran has not made a decision to pursue one.
"If the United States and its allies broadened their perspective and paid attention not merely to Iran's nuclear program but also to the Islamic Republic's larger assault on the West, they would see that a third and better option exists: supporting a democratic revolution in Iran," writes Michael Ledeen in Foreign Affairs.
"If there is one thing that Israelis and Americans have learnt over the years, it is that Iran's leaders are eminently rational in the pursuit of their interests, and in the protection of their authority. A nuclear attack on Israel would be matched by more severe Israeli, and probably American, nuclear retaliation against Iran," writes Michael Young in The National.
S. Korean President Visits Contested Islets
South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak visited a group of islets in the Sea of Japan (AFP) controlled by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo, Japanese media said. Japan advised South Korea to cancel the visit to avoid damaging relations, already strained due to the dispute and other issues.
CHINA: China's consumer inflation eased to 1.8 percent in July from a year earlier, leaving room for the nation's central bank to continue to ease monetary policy (WSJ). But some economists warn of the possibility of rebounding inflation in the fourth quarter because of rising global agricultural prices, which could curb Beijing's ability to cut interest rates.
Syrian Troops Push Back Rebels
Syrian forces pushed rebels back (Reuters) from a strategic district of Aleppo, but skirmishes continued in the city and the United Nations said the conflict engulfing Syria would have no winner. Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi could be named next week to replace the U.N.-Arab League Syria envoy Kofi Annan, who recently resigned.
Unless the current trajectory is changed, Syria is headed towards an all-out civil war, says CFR's Ed Husain.
LEBANON: Hezbollah contested the arrest of Lebanon's former information minister Michel Samaha (DailyStar), and accused the country's judiciary of collaborating with "suspicious" security forces. Samaha is suspected of involvement in a plot to carry out terrorist attacks in Lebanon in collaboration with the Syrian regime.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Three U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan
A man in an Afghan military uniform killed three U.S. troops (CNN) in southern Afghanistan. The attack comes just a day after the United States condemned a suicide bombing that left four Americans dead in what has been a series of attacks by men dressed in Afghan security uniforms on NATO soldiers.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered U.S. assistance to Nigeria (AllAfrica) to fight the militant Islamic group Boko Haram and reiterated Washington's support for Nigerian reforms, including anti-corruption efforts.
This CFR guide looks at the rise ofBoko Haram, an Islamist religious sect that has targeted Nigeria's police, rival clerics, politicians, and public institutions with increasing violence since 2009.
FRANCE: French authorities expelled at least 200 Roma (France24) from encampments near Lille, deporting many to Romania. The move comes a day after France's interior minister voiced concern about "unsanitary camps."
Drug 'Queen' Extradited to U.S.
Sandra Avila Beltran, known in Mexico as "The Queen of the Pacific" for allegedly creating smuggling routes along the Mexico-California border, was extradited to the United States (GlobalPost), where she will face charges of cocaine trafficking.
URUGUAY: Uruguayan President Jose Mujica's presented the national legislature with his plan to turn the government into the country's marijuana dealer (Mercopress). The bill aims to take over an illegal marijuana trafficking business estimated to be worth $30 to $40 million annually.
UN Warns of Food Crisis
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization warned about a repeat of the 2008 food crisis, as data showed food prices jumped 6 percent last month (Reuters). Importers are snapping up a U.S. grain crop that has been decimated by the worst drought in over five decades.
Climatic conditions across the U.S. farm belt are triggering a rise in global food prices that threatens to fuel political unrest in developing countries, says CFR's Isobel Coleman
Democrats to Shadow Romney Bus Tour
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney kicks off a swing-state bus tour Saturday in Virginia, focused on his economic plan for the middle class (USAToday). Meanwhile, Democrats plan to shadow the bus tour with their own (NYT).
Foreign Policy's Stephen M Walt looks at what the 2012 election means for U.S. foreign policy and the differences between the candidates.