– U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker is expected to step down from his post as early as this month. Reuters reports that “it was not immediately clear why the widely respected diplomat was leaving.”
– The U.S. Senate approved new sanctions on Iran ahead of nuclear talks in Baghdad this week. The bill allows President Obama to impose sanctions on any country or company that enters joint ventures with Iran to develop its oil or uranium resource, or provides technology or resources to help Iran with such development.
– A federal appeals court ruled that CIA interrogation methods — including detention and harsh questioning of suspected terrorists — will remain off limits to public release, finding that “intelligence methods” are not subject to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union.
– In a perceived snub, President Obama left Pakistan off the list of nations he thanked Monday for help getting getting war supplies into Afghanistan. Pakistan closed supply routes into Afghanistan last year following a U.S. attack on the Pakistani side of the border which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
– Iran is bolstering the Syrian regime’s finances after economic sanctions have choked off many sources of funding. CNN reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “likely had about $30 billion in cash reserves to spend when unrest and bloodshed began in March 2011. He’s about down to $6 billion to $9 billion.”
– Lebanon’s capital Beirut remained tense after its worst fighting in years on Monday when Sunni Muslim forces for and against Syria’s Assad regime clashed after a week of such fighting in the city of Tripoli, raising fears of more spillover from the Syrian civil war.
–The group allied with Al Qaeda that claimed credit for yesterday’s bombing of a planned military parade in Yemen, taking took more than 100 lives, said on Facebook that the attack targeted the defense minister in response for a military campaign against militant groups in the country’s south.
– A Senate panel this week examined government foreign language capabilities and found that only 61 percent of “language-designated positions” at the State Department were filled, while the Pentagon had 80 percent of such positions filled but only a quarter of them at the required level of proficiency.