National Security Brief: April 4, 2012

— Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s government was close to completing a deal that would give the Afghan authorities legal oversight of American forces’ nighttime raids on Afghan homes. The deal will also reportedly allow American forces to retain a guiding role in conducting the raids.

– Big oil companies in Greece and South Africa suspended imports of Iranian oil in the latest sign that sanctions are having a profound impact on Iran’s economy.

— Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani suggested that Iran had erred in failing to befriend the majority Sunni Saudi Arabia. “If we had good relations with Saudi Arabia, would the West have been able to impose sanctions?” Rafsanjani said.

— Turkey has drawn up plans for refugee safe zones inside Syria and other aggressive steps to help protect Syrian civilians if violence spikes there, a senior official said Tuesday.

— Western powers are circulating a draft statement endorsing Kofi Annan’s April 10 deadline for Syrian troops to halt fighting. Russia warned the West and Arab countries against arming the rebels, saying it would lead to years of bloodshed and would not enable the opposition to defeat government forces.

— A new poll of American Jewish voters shows that they overwhelmingly support President Obama’s reelection and that Israel and Iran rank low on their list of priority issues in the presidential election.

— The Washington Post reports: “The Iraqi government is debating proposed laws that would impose strict controls on freedom of speech and association, prompting fears that the authorities are playing a growing and increasingly oppressive role in citizens’ lives.”