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National Security Brief: June 14, 2011

Two U.S. soldiers were killed in southern Iraq yesterday, raising the number of American casualties this month to eight. The deaths come just months ahead of a year-end deadline for a withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa voiced “worry” yesterday about almost three months of clashes in Syria but said the 22-member body is divided on how to procede. “Though their views differ, Arab states are all worried, angry and actively monitoring the current crisis in Syria,” he said.

Lebanon’s new prime minister, Najib Mikati, announced yesterday that his new government will be dominated by members and allies of Hezbollah. In an interview with AFP, Mikati insisted that “there would be no radical shift in policy.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bluntly warned African leaders yesterday that authoritarian governments ruled by aging despots were “no longer acceptable,” saying that those who refused democratic reforms would find themselves “on the wrong side of history.”

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Efforts to start peace negotiations between the government of President Hamid Karzai and the insurgent Taliban organization are making some of Afghanistan’s populace nervous about the possibility of the notoriously-hardline Taliban returning to a role of legitimate power.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood party has announced its intention to forge an alliance with the Wafd party, a liberal party established after World War I, forming a powerful coalition for the upcoming parliamentary elections in September.

Leaders of Yemen’s political opposition met on Monday with the country’s acting president, Abed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi, in the first reported meeting between the government and opposition since the beginning of the year.

For nearly a year — while the bank was losing Libya’s investment dollars — Goldman Sachs employed the brother of the Libyan official that oversees the now-again-pariah nation’s sovereign wealth fund. Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, the head of the British Royal Navy, said that his country’s armed forces would be “comfortable” for another three months of military operation in Libya, but engagement beyond that would require “challenging decisions”, which he said commanders were already considering.