National Security Brief: July 1, 2011

— This morning at 8:45 am, Leon Panetta took over as the country’s next Secretary of Defense. Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday confirmed Gen. David Petraeus to be the next CIA director and approved Ryan Crocker‘s nomination as the new U.S. ambassador in Kabul.

— Hoping to continue to avoid the instability in many Arab nations, the Kuwait National Assembly approved a budget with a record $70 billion in spending, 90-percent of which will go to fuel subsidies and salary increases for public officials.

— NATO-led forces in Afghanistan launched an airstrike that killed an insurgent leader from a Taliban-allied group said to be responsible for planning this week’s attack on a hotel in Kabul.

— Libyan army weapons are being trafficked in North Africa and possibly sold to Al-Qaeda affiliates according Spain’s interior minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.

— The year’s death toll in South Sudan has topped 1,800, the U.N. said on Friday. Violence has surged since the south voted to separate from the north in January. The region will become independent next week.

— The United Nations will open 8 new peacekeeping bases in western Ivory Coast in an effort to restore law and order ahead of upcoming legislative elections, local U.N. mission chief Choi Young-jin said.

— Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh “was so severely injured in an assassination attempt that it is uncertain when he will return to the country, Yemen Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has said.”

— A second boat dropped out of the so-called Gaza Freedom Flotilla after activists learned of damage to the propeller shaft. The Irish activists organizing the boat accused Israel of sabotage.