Off the Radar News Roundup

– After meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao calls the G-2 appelation premature, saying everyone should remain “sober-minded” about it. – After going online in August 2009, the Chinese Defense Ministry’s Web site was cyberattacked 2.3 million times in the first month. Payback? (Much more of interest in a People’s Daily interview with the site’s editor.) – China and Vietnam signed an agreement definitively demarcating their 800-mile land border, a process that took 10 years. They agreed to continue negotiations regarding their maritime boundary disputes. It’s important to remember when considering China’s rise that in addition […]

Iran’s Cybercrime Plan Riles Rights Community

Rights advocates are expressing concern about Iranian plans to create a cybercrimes division to investigate illegal activity on the Internet, over fears that authorities will use the unit to target the opposition and political activists. Iranian authorities say they are aware of over 100,000 incidents of cybercrimes in 2008 — including theft, fraud, forgery and libel — and that the number is on the rise. But rights advocates worry that the unit’s real purpose is to quell political discourse and enhance an ongoing crackdown on the opposition, which relies heavily on Internet-based tools for communication. After Iran’s controversial June presidential […]

Off the Radar News Roundup

– China and Brazil reach a five-point consensus to strengthen military personnel exchanges, and technology cooperaiton. (Despite the emerging South-emerging East angle, France still makes a better fit for defense partnerships with Brazil.) – Free press vs. free pass: A high-ranking Chinese Communist Party official goes on a state visit to Sudan, and the People’s Daily doesn’t mention the problematic nature of that bilateral relationship once. – Taiwan and China finally signed that MoU on financial regulation. Financial observers exepect a major inflow of Chinese capital to Taiwan when it takes effect two months from now. – In addition to […]

France, Turkey and Sarkozy’s Strategic Vision

Yesterday, I half-jokingly noted the long trail of mediations necessary to get the Israeli-Syrian peace track back in gear. What I forgot to mention regarding a French role in that process is that before France can mediate between Israel and Turkey, someone’s got to mediate between France and Turkey. That’s because of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s vocal opposition to Turkey’s EU accession. There’s been some recent chatter that France and Turkey have arrived at a modus vivendi on that issue. But I would be very surprised if Sarkozy doesn’t reverse positions on Turkey completely should he win a second term […]

Off the Radar News Roundup

– China announces yet another military cooperation upgrade, this time with Thailand. – This article about the followup to the Obama-Hatoyama meeting includes a good rundown of what the U.S.-Japan dispute over the Futenma air base closure is all about. – I mentioned the various competing plans for Asian regional integration earlier today. Here are the broad outlines of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s version. – In the runup to the one-year anniversary of the Mumbai attack, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi issues a call for renewing the Composite Dialogue with India. – Turkey moves forward with its Kurdish […]

Israel, Syria, Turkey and France

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, fresh off a visit to Paris where he met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, reportedly told an Israeli cabinet meetingthat he was prepared to hold peace talks with Syria, either directly orelse through an honest broker. Netanyahu ruled out Turkey for such arole, saying that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would notbe a “fair mediator.” Since Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ruled out direct talkswith Israel in a meeting with Sarkozy two days after Netanyahu’s Paris visit, that could mean aFrench role. But the French side stated it supported the Turkishmediation effort. So France might […]

Obama Losing Patience With Iran

President Barack Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during an Asia Pacific summit in Singapore. Though in Asia, the leaders took time out to discuss the persisting standstill in nuclear negotiations with Iran. “We are now running out of time,” Obama said, referring to Iran’s current tacitness. Both leaders say they are prepared hold a tougher line on the matter.

It remains uncertain whether Iran will ultimately accept or reject the agreement that nuclear negotiators in Geneva drafted late last month to send Iran’s stockpiled enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment. But the deliberations in Tehran have made one thing clear: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is under enormous domestic pressure from all sides to reject the P5+1 deal. It would be a mistake, however, to view this pressure in the vacuum of the nuclear issue. In fact, the opposition to striking a deal with the West offers a revealing glimpse of what the future holds for Iran’s fractured political landscape. […]

Russia’s Hidden Iran Sanctions

This point by Flyntt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett about the recurring “Russia okays sanctions on Iran” meme is well-taken. For a while now, the bleak prospects on the Iran nuclear standoff have caused us to hear what we’d like Moscow to be saying, rather than what it actually is saying. That said, one thing the Leveretts don’t mention is that Russia’s recurring delays in bringing the Bushehr nuclear reactor online represents in some ways a hidden sanction on Iran.

The Turkish Option and Iran’s Uranium

Joshua Pollack has a very useful rundown of just what the recent mention of Turkey as an “escrow” holder of Iranian enriched uranium could look like. There’s no reason to be any more optimistic about Iran’s response to this option, compared to the deal as it now stands, even if it does remove the “trust card” from the Iranian negotiating arsenal. But given that IAEA chief Mohamed El-Baradei has explicitly referred to the Turkish option as a proposal he’s floating with U.S. approval, it might be time for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to back off from the “no renegotiation” […]

President Barack Obama has successfully transformed America’s strategic dialogue with the world for the better in his first year, impressing Europe — or at least eminently sensible Norway — enough to win a Nobel Peace Prize. In relationship after relationship, America now finds itself talking about what really matters, which in most instances means prioritizing economics above terrorism (George W. Bush’s one-note presidency) and climate change (Al Gore’s shrill post-vice-presidency). For those who prefer a diet of constant fear, Obama’s maddeningly calm approach is not nearly as filling as an American foreign policy forever focused on perceived existential threats. The […]

Conflict Escalates in Yemen

Al-Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra reports on the continuing violence on the Saudi-Yemeni border. Citizens on the northern border are caught in the crossfire while the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. With no sign of the conflict in Northern Yemen abetting anytime soon, Saudi Arabia is hoping that a naval blockade will prevent Yemeni rebels from acquiring weapons.

Off the Radar News Roundup

– Interesting, given the climate of anxiety in Washington over China’s military intentions, that in the week before President Barack Obama’s first state visit to the PRC, Beijing announces plans for closer military cooperation with Togo and Khazakhstan, to say nothing of Macedonia yesterday. – Fresh off a successful counterinsurgency campaign, a general quits his command amid rumors of a future in politics. Yet another reason Gen. David Petraeus will be keeping an eye on Sri Lanka. – When all you’ve got is nukes . . . In a leaked internal review, Russia’s military gets low grades on combat readiness. […]

Off the Radar News Roundup

– Good thing Greece blocked Macedonia’s NATO bid in 2008. Now the Macedonian army chief of staff is in Beijing looking to improve military cooperation with China. – For that China-Taiwan MoU on banking regulation, the signature’s ready, but the title it goes over is holding things up. – After Malaysia, Chinese President Hu Jintao visits Singapore. His way of letting President Barack Obama know just whose neighborhood it is? – Don’t hold your breath on Turkey-Armenia reconciliation. – France and Turkey have reportedly reached an agreement on Turkey’s EU accession: France will continue to oppose it, without blocking continued […]

This Week’s WPR Video Highlights

Here are a few of the week’s highlights from WPR’s video section: As Germany celebrates 20 years since the Berlin Wall crumbled, some vintage footage from PBS’ NewsHour provides a look back to what policymakers and pundits of the day were thinking. From utter shock and surprise to apprehension, then-Sens. Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn, arms negotiator Paul Nitze, former National Security Adviser Walt Rostow, and former ambassador and economist John Galbraith explore what this new East Germany might look like. So, how did they do? In Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s latest dig at Thailand’s current government, Cambodia has […]

Clinton on Iran

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton provides the context for thecurrent standstill in Iran with regards to nuclear negotiations. Shesaid that the United States and the rest of the international communityexpect a favorable response to the proposed enrichment deal soon. Shecontinued by saying that she understands the domestic complications inIran that are stalling a decision, but sees this as merely a setback.

Off the Radar News Roundup

– Among the agreements signed during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Malaysia was an MoU on banking regulation. This seems to be an increasing priority for Chinese regional policy. – Count World Bank President Robert Zoeller as the latest believer in the Yuan as an alternative reserve currency. – If China is looking to raise its profile in the Gulf, Qatar makes for a logical partner. – It looks like Japan and the U.S. have agreed to downgrade the Futenma base dispute, in advance of President Barack Obama’s imminent arrival in Tokyo. – China agrees to sell $1.4 billion […]

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