National Security Brief: Weapons To Syria Rebels

– A day after the U.S. accused Russia of supplying helicopters to Syrian government forces and the U.N. declared the conflict a “civil war”, the New York Times reports that the U.S. was consulted on arms deals funded by Saudia Arabia and Qatar that sent Turkish Army anti-tank missiles to Syrian rebels.

– Israeli President Shimon Peres today, in Washington to receive the top U.S. government distinction for civilians, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, will ask the administration to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. In 1995, almost ten years after his conviction and sentencing to life in prison, Israel granted Pollard citizenship and campaigned for his release, which is opposed by many top American security officials but supported by some Members of Congress.

– Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Tehran today ahead of talks between Western powers and Iran next week in Moscow over its nuclear program. The U.S. has long courted Russia to press Iran to cut a deal. The Moscow talks appeared to be on shaky footing until a recent call between the E.U. foreign office and Tehran’s chief negotiator, who now says all nuclear issues will be on the table.

– The food crisis that has long wracked North Korea, a result of the international community’s isolation of the eccentric Communist dictatorship, affects millions of children, according to a new U.N. report. Almost a third of children there suffer from stunted growth as the government funds military build-ups, though it’s recently acknowledged a crisis.

– Just four days before a runoff vote for the presidency, Egypt’s parliament appointed a 100-member assembly to hash out a new constitution for the country. The panel was said to represent greater diversity than normally found in post-revolutionary elected bodies, which have been dominated by Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood.