– Former CIA acting director John McLaughlin told an audience yesterday that military action against Iran “would be a very bad option.” Meanwhile, today, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking on Israel’s Army Radio, downplayed the likelihood of an imminent Israeli unilateral attack, saying “We haven’t made any decision to do this,” adding, “This entire thing is very far off.”
– Iran warned Saudi Arabia against boosting oil production to compensate for a potential drop in Iranian exports if they are hit by sanctions.
– As new crippling sanctions and a de facto near-embargo on Iranian oil put pressure on the Islamic Republic, the foreign minister said the country “would like to have these negotiations” toward resolving its nuclear crisis with the West.
– Violence in Iraq sharply increased after U.S. troops left one month ago in response to both the power vacuum left by departing forces but also a domestic political crisis as Shiite and Sunni leaders engage in a political power struggle.
– USA Today reports that “military commanders in Afghanistan have stopped making public the number of allied troops killed by Afghan soldiers and police, a measure of the trustworthiness of a force that is to take over security from U.S.-led forces.”
– Despite yesterday’s surge in violence in which at least 30 Syrian activists were killed, Russia’s foreign minister warned that Russia will block any move by the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions or military action against Syria’s government.
– Alongside an announced a move to force internet users to register with their real names, China continued its crackdown on human rights activists, arresting 58-year-old democracy advocate Zhu Yufu and charging him with subverting the state.
– The international humanitarian relief groups OxFam and Save the Children released a joint report detailing how the slow response to East African famine cost thousands of lives by ignoring early warning and lack of funds until the crisis flowered.