AFP news reported on July 22 that a spokesman for the North Korean delegation at the ASEAN security talks in Hanoi has condemned the U.S.-South Korea naval exercises planned for July 25 as a threat to global peace. The USS George Washington aircraft carrier arrived in the South Korean port of Busan on July 21 to take part in the exercises.
Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass has penned a cover story for Newsweek magazine calling for a smaller U.S. presence in Afghanistan, but not complete withdrawal.
Speaking at a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on July 21 that the United States will impose new sanctions on North Korea. The impetus for the sanctions against the communist nation was strengthened by the North’s suspected torpedo attack that sank South Korea’s ROKS Cheonan on March 26, as well as by the Pyongyang regime’s failure to accede to international demands to reveal the details of its nuclear program.
International leaders meeting at a conference held at the Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 20 renewed their commitment to turn over responsibility for the nation’s security to the Afghan government by 2014.
The return of Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri to Iran from CIA custody has news agencies wondering whether he defected or was kidnapped by the CIA during a June 2009 hajj (Islamic religious pilgrimage) to Mecca. “Americans wanted me to say that I defected to America of my own will, to use me for revealing some false information about Iran's nuclear work," Amiri said from Tehran airport last week, claiming, "I was under intensive psychological pressure by [the] CIA.... The main aim of this abduction was to stage a new political and psychological game against Iran.”
AP and the New York Times reported on July 15 that on the previous day the Afghan government approved a U.S.-backed plan to establish local defense forces that will enable villagers in remote areas of the country to defend themselves against attacks by Taliban insurgents.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recommended Marine Corps General James Mattis July 8 to head the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the joint military command for the Middle East that includes supervision of the Iraq and Afghan wars. The U.S. Central Command combines theater command of the four service branches as well as special operations for the Middle East and Central Asia.
Octavia Nasr, a senior Middle East editor at CNN, has been fired from her position after writing in a post on Twitter that she "respected" Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah — a Lebanese Shia Muslim leader with links to the terrorist group Hezbollah who died on July 4. Nasr wrote: "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.... One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot."
“Airports in Britain, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates have refused to offer fuel to Iranian passenger jets after unilateral sanctions imposed by Washington,” according to a report in the UK Telegraph. “Kuwaiti airports have also declined to offer fuel to Iranian passenger planes.”
Trade representatives of mainland China and the Republic of China on Taiwan signed a trade deal called the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in the Chinese city of Chonqquing on June 29, as negotiators on both sides spoke of a new era in ties across the Taiwan Strait.
What is the political ideology that governs the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea? Communism, its government proclaims. Communism, on paper, rejects dynastic rule. The party may govern the state and the state may be given almost unlimited power over the lives of its citizens (or, rather, subjects), but those who rise to high positions in government or party jobs earned that honor by slavish devotion to the Communist Party — or so the story goes.