Friday, June 19, 2009



The New York Times reports that "As another day of defiance and uncertainty loomed in Iran's capital, many Iranians looked to an appearance by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who led the national prayer service from Tehran University on Friday. Political analysts said they hoped that the leader would reveal his ultimate intent, indicating a willingness to either appease the opposition or demand an end to protests that followed presidential elections a week ago. He blamed 'media belonging to Zionists, evil media' for seeking to show divisions between those who supported the Iranian state and those who did not."

Radio Free Europe reports that "Tens of thousands of supporters of Iran's presidential challenger Mir Hossein Musavi have taken to the streets of the capital, Tehran, to mourn the deaths of at least seven protesters killed in postelection violence. Musavi himself joined the rally, the latest protest against the results of last week's election that gave incumbent Mahmud Ahmadinejad an overwhelming victory. It came as the country's electoral watchdog said it had invited Ahmadinejad's three challengers to a meeting in the next few days to discuss their complaints.... [A] caller to RFE/RL explained why he had joined the crowds dressed in black: 'Our main demand is the establishment of democracy in our country and the taking back of our rights, even as regards the smallest things called ballot papers,' he said. Up to five students are also believed to have died in a raid by pro-Ahmadinejad and Basij militia forces on a Tehran university earlier this week."

Reuters reports that "Iranian opposition politician Ebrahim Yazdi has been arrested while in hospital, an ally said on June 18, the latest in dozens of detentions of pro-reformers since last week's disputed presidential election... Earlier this week, reformist sources said police had detained over 100 reformers, including a brother of former President Mohammad Khatami and leading reformist Mohammad Ali Abtahi. Police denied Khatami's brother had been arrested"

The Wall Street Journal reports that "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, despite his contested election victory, is getting a boost from an unexpected corner: conservative lawmakers who had stymied some of his economic initiatives. Many conservative lawmakers broke ranks in the past with Mr. Ahmadinejad, openly criticizing the president's management of the economy. His officially sanctioned -- though widely disputed -- landslide victory of more than 60% has those lawmakers rallying behind him. So far, 220 out of 290 members of Iran's parliament have written to him to formally endorse his victory."

Paul Wolfowitz writes in the Washington Post that "President Obama's first response to the protests in Iran was silence, followed by a cautious, almost neutral stance designed to avoid "meddling" in Iranian affairs. I am reminded of Ronald Reagan's initially neutral response to the crisis following the Philippine election of 1986, and of George H.W. Bush's initially neutral response to the attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991. Both Reagan and Bush were able to abandon their mistaken neutrality in time to make a difference. It's not too late for Obama to do the same."

Charles Krauthammer writes in the Washington Post that "Millions of Iranians take to the streets to defy a theocratic dictatorship that, among its other finer qualities, is a self-declared enemy of America and the tolerance and liberties it represents. The demonstrators are fighting on their own, but they await just a word that America is on their side. And what do they hear from the president of the United States? Silence. Then, worse. Three days in, the president makes clear his policy: continued "dialogue" with their clerical masters. Dialogue with a regime that is breaking heads, shooting demonstrators, expelling journalists, arresting activists. Engagement with -- which inevitably confers legitimacy upon -- leaders elected in a process that begins as a sham (only four handpicked candidates permitted out of 476) and ends in overt rigging."

North Korea/Missile Defense

The Wall Street Journal reports that "The U.S. is moving ground-to-air missile defenses to Hawaii as tensions escalate between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea's recent moves to restart its nuclear-weapon program and resume test-firing long-range missiles. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday that the U.S. is concerned that Pyongyang might soon fire a missile toward Hawaii. Some senior U.S. officials expect a North Korean test by midsummer, even though most don't believe the missile would be capable of crossing the Pacific and reaching Hawaii. Mr. Gates told reporters that the U.S. is positioning a sophisticated floating radar array in the ocean around Hawaii to track an incoming missile. The U.S. is also deploying missile-defense weapons to Hawaii that would theoretically be capable of shooting down a North Korean missile, should such an order be given, he said."

FOX News reports that "The U.S. military is tracking a flagged North Korean ship suspected of proliferating weapons material in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution passed last Friday, FOX News has learned. The ship, Kang Nam, left a port in North Korea Wednesday and appears to be heading toward Singapore, according to a senior U.S. military source. The vessel, which the military has been tracking since its departure, could be carrying weaponry, missile parts or nuclear materials."


Reuters reports that "A top Air Force general, swerving from the Pentagon leadership, said ending production of Lockheed Martin Corp's (LMT.N) F-22 Raptor fighter jet, as proposed by President Barack Obama, posed a high risk to U.S. ability to carry out its current military strategy. 'In my opinion, a fleet of 187 F-22s puts execution of our current national military strategy at high risk in the near- to mid-term,' Gen. John Corley, head of the Air Combat Command, wrote in a June 9 letter to a senator. 'To my knowledge, there are no studies that demonstrate 187 F-22s are adequate to support our national military strategy,' he added in the letter to Sen. Saxby Chambliss."

The AP reports that "Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday a decision by House lawmakers to increase the budget to buy a dozen more of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-22s is a 'big problem.' Gates said additional funding for 12 radar evading jets, built by the Bethesda, Md.-based defense contractor, goes against recommendations made by him to the president, and ultimately against the budget the president sent to Congress."

Reuters reports that "The Pentagon will decide 'within a few days' how to structure the next attempt to award a multi-billion-dollar contract to replace the Air Force's aging tanker fleet, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday."


Reuters reports that "The U.S. Congress on Thursday sent President Barack Obama a $106 billion bill to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars after political sparring that could foreshadow tougher fights over Obama's agenda. The bill, delayed by disputes over quickly closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay and expanding support for the IMF, highlighted the difficulties Obama may face in Congress even though his fellow Democrats control both the Senate and House of Representatives."

Central Asia

The Washington Times reports that "Thousands of Mongolians turned out at the main square of the capital to celebrate the swearing in of their new president, Elbegdorj Tsakhiagiin, on Thursday, marking the first time the opposition Democratic Party has held the office in the five presidential elections since Mongolia became a democracy in 1990. The Harvard-educated, two-time prime minister Mr. Elbegdorj defeated incumbent president Enkhbayryn Nambaryan of the People's Revolutionary Party on May 24 by capturing 51 percent of the vote on a platform of reforming the judiciary, fighting corruption, and finding a way to give more of the country's mineral wealth back to the people."

Radio Free Europe reports that "The Central Asian country that routinely holds the most competitive, provocative, and entertaining elections in the region is about to hold a poll for the nation's top post. Campaigning started today for Kyrgyzstan's presidential election on July 23. From an original field of 18 hopefuls, the Central Election Commission approved six candidates who successfully filed all the required documents and passed a test on their knowledge of the state language -- Kyrgyz. To many, the result of the election is a foregone conclusion, but for Kyrgyzstan -- and Central Asia as a whole -- the more important issue will be how open and fair the campaign and voting process will be... Political analyst Marat Kazakbaev told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that the system will work to see Bakiev reelected. But he said that Almaz Atambaev, the candidate of the unified opposition who heads the Social Democratic Party (SDP), could provide stiff competition for the incumbent."


UPI reports that "The killing of some 20 Algerian paramilitary policemen in a desert ambush Wednesday by Islamist extremists linked to al-Qaida was a show of force by the jihadists who appear determined to expand their operations across the region and open a new terror front. The ambush was the work of al-Qaida in the Maghreb, the Arabic name for North Africa. It was formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, one of the most vicious Islamist groups to emerge from Algeria's civil war throughout the 1990s. It swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden's global network in September 2006."

VOA reports that "The internal security minister in Somalia's fragile, internationally-backed government has been killed in a suicide attack. The blast, which took place in the town of Beledweyne near the Ethiopian border, killed at least 20 people. Omar Hashi Aden had been a key figure in the Somali government's efforts to counter the Islamist insurgency that is seeking to take control of the country."


The Los Angeles Times reports that "The 24-year-old granddaughter of Ernesto "Che" Guevara will partner with PETA in the group's first South American campaign to promote vegetarianism. The campaign, expected to debut in Argentina this October in the form of print ads and posters, features Lydia Guevara armed with carrot-laden ammunition belts and wearing a beret that even the youngest hipster will recognize from a famous T-shirt design."


Discussion with William Forstchen on U.S. Vulnerability to EMP Attack
Foundation For Defense of Democracies
June 22

CATO Institute
June 23

Heritage Foundation
June 29

Hudson Institute
June 30

Overnight Brief is a daily product of the Foreign Policy Initiative, which seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America's global economic competitiveness. To submit comments or suggestions,