Following a 20-minute discussion on the sidelines of the eighth Group of Twenty (G20) summit at St. Petersburg, Russia, on September 6, President Obama remains committed to a military strike against Syria, while Russian President Vladimir Putin maintains that such a strike would be “illegal.”
As the crisis in Syria heats up amidst allegations that the government has used chemical weapons against civilians, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel — speaking on August 26 at a news conference in Jakarta, Indonesia — said that the United States is “looking at all options” concerning a possible U.S. response.
President Obama — when asked about allegations made by anti-government activists in Syria that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons in an attack said to have killed more than 1,300 people — said that officials are “right now gathering information” and “what we’ve seen indicates that this is clearly a big event of grave concern.”
At least 24 Egyptian policemen riding on two buses near the town of Rafah — a city in the Sinai Peninsula on the Egyptian-Gaza border — were killed in an attack by unknown terrorists on August 19. BBC News reported that there were conflicting reports about the details of the attack.
Protests by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi continued across Egypt on August 16, as the Muslim Brotherhood staged a “Day of Rage.” The protests were often violent, and witnesses reported four protest-related deaths in central Cairo, four in the Mediterranean town of Damietta, and four more in the northeastern city of Ismailia.
Egyptian government security forces conducted operations on August 14 to clear two camps in Cairo occupied by supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, many of them followers of the Muslim Brotherhood. Government troops supported by armored vehicles moved into the camps, using tear gas to disperse crowds and bulldozers to level makeshift structures.
North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed a voter ID bill into law on August 12. The new law, which will go into effect for the 2016 elections, will require all voters to present a valid government-issued photo ID at the polls.
On August 8 the U.S. State Department warned U.S. citizens “to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan,” stating that “The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan.”
The warning added, “On August 8, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore, Pakistan. The Department of State ordered this drawdown due to specific threats concerning the U.S. Consulate in Lahore.”
Rajeh Badi, press advisor to Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, announced on August 7 that government security forces have thwarted a plot by al Qaeda to seize oil and gas export facilities and a provincial capital in eastern Yemen.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced on August 4 that U.S. embassies and consulates in 19 Muslim nations will remain closed at least until the end of this week. Psaki stated that the decision to keep the diplomatic posts closed signifies an “abundance of caution” and is “not an indication of a new threat.”