FPI Overnight Brief: September 2, 2011

Libya

The Libyan rebels’ transitional government on Thursday extended by a week its ultimatum demanding the surrender of the loyalists of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi who control his hometown, Surt. Also on Thursday, the fugitive Libyan leader released an audio recording proclaiming that Surt was now the Libyan capital. – New York Times
 
With Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi effectively overthrown, representatives of some 60 nations gathered here Thursday to help the new Libyan authorities navigate a fraught transition and restore stability and a functioning economy to a country ravaged by rebellion and 42 years of dictatorship. – New York Times
 
He says he was tortured by the CIA and accused of links with al-Qaeda, but Tripoli’s new military commander, Abdulhakim Belhadj, insists that he is no extremist or enemy of the United States. – Washington Post
 
Reams of confidential documents reveal mounting desperation and disarray among top leaders of Col. Moammar Gadhafi's regime this past spring as power slipped through their fingers. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
As that rage here calms and Libya looks to a post-Qaddafi era, the Abu Salim families, as they are called, say they are watching to see how, and if, the rebels address the many unresolved questions that are the prison’s legacy. There has never been a full accounting of what happened on the night of the massacre. The bodies have never been found. – New York Times
 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Libyan transitional government that they needed to address the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, and that the United States would be watching closely to see how the rebel leaders handled the case. – The Hill
 
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Libya's emerging new political leaders Sept. 1 to fight violent extremism and ensure fallen leader Moammar Gadhafi's weapons do not fall into the wrong hands. - AFP
 
Rebel forces and armed civilians are rounding up thousands of black Libyans and migrants from sub-Sahara Africa, accusing them of fighting for ousted strongman Moammar Gadhafi and holding them in makeshift jails across the capital. – Associated Press
 
Muammar Gaddafi called Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to negotiate a passage into his country but the latter refused to take his call, a local newspaper reported on Thursday. - Reuters
 
Josh Rogin reports: The American victims of several terror attacks perpetrated by the regime of deposed Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi are asking the State Department to break off some of Qaddafi's frozen assets and give it to them. – The Cable

Syria

In a sign that Syria's crackdown on dissent is fraying one of its few alliances in the region, an Iranian lawmaker said in an interview published Thursday that his nation should be supporting the protesters and not the Syrian regime. – Los Angeles Times
 
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Friday that France was pushing for a United Nations Security Council resolution laying out sanctions against Syria and condemning use of violence against civilians there. - Reuters
 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday urged European and other countries to impose more sanctions on Syria and President Bashar al-Assad, saying more pressure was needed to force him to step down. - Reuters
 
Oil companies in Europe are betting on the survival of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, in contrast to their support for Libya's opposition six months ago, even as the European Union is expected to slap oil sanctions on Damascus. - Reuters
 
Josh Rogin reports: The ongoing war of words between the Obama administration and the Bashar al-Assad regime is quickly descending into a nasty exchange of personal insults and invectives between officials that have borne grudges against each other for years. – The Cable
 
Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz write: Barack Obama is the son of an African Muslim and an American woman who dedicated her life to the Third World. He is tailor-made to lead the United States in expanding democracy to the most unstable, autocratic and religiously militant region of the globe. The president obviously hasn’t seen himself as that kind of “friend of Islam.” But the Great Arab Revolt is transforming the way Arab Muslims see themselves. It may do the same for Barack Obama. – Washington Post

Middle East

The leader of this island kingdom’s largest opposition party says that a future, democratic Middle East would eliminate the need for the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf. – Washington Times
 
Thousands of people marched through a restive village near the capital of Bahrain on Thursday for the funeral of a 14-year-old boy killed during a protest against the government the day before, activists said. – New York Times
 
The US and Bahrain sec­retly extended their defence co-operation agreement in 2002, it has emerged. The pact, which governs the home port of the US navy’s fifth fleet, was extended by five years and now runs until 2016. – Financial Times

Egypt

As the holiday ticked toward its conclusion Thursday without the man who dominated Egyptian life for three decades, it felt profoundly different from previous Eid al-Fitr seasons, filled with political campaigning that for the first time in memory reflected real choices. – Washington Post

Yemen

Yemeni military and medical officials say 30 al-Qaida suspects have been killed in U.S. airstrikes and clashes with Yemeni soldiers in al-Qaida-held cities in the south. – Associated Press

Iraq

A recently disclosed diplomatic cable shows that a top United Nations human rights official warned the United States government five years ago that he had received information indicating that Iraqi reports of American troops executing a family were true. – New York Times
 
Washington and Baghdad have made significant progress on a deal for Iraq to buy Lockheed Martin F-16 warplanes but do not have a signed contract, a U.S. military official said on Wednesday. - Reuters
 
Thirty-five prisoners facing terrorism charges escaped through a sewage pipe from a temporary jail in Iraq's restive northern city of Mosul on Thursday before 21 were recaptured, officials said. - Reuters
 
At least 2,600 civilians, police and soldiers, along with 35 U.S. military personnel, have been killed in violence in Iraq since Washington formally ended combat operations a year ago, U.S. and Iraqi statistics show. - Reuters

Iran

Iran is moving its most critical nuclear fuel production to a heavily defended underground military facility outside the holy city of Qum, where it is less vulnerable to attack from the air and, the Iranians hope, the kind of cyberattack that crippled its nuclear program, according to intelligence officials – New York Times
 
Iran urged French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sept.1 not to make comments based on "unrealistic information," after Paris called for tougher sanctions over Tehran's controversial nuclear program. - AFP
 
An Iranian effort to show increased openness about its disputed nuclear program is doing little to dispel Western suspicions about Tehran's atomic ambitions, with one Vienna-based envoy dismissing it as a "charm offensive." - Reuters

Israel

A U.N. panel has concluded that Israel’s armed raid on a flotilla carrying Turkish and other foreign activists and humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip last year was legal, but that its use of force in an operation that left nine people dead was “excessive and unreasonable.” – Washington Post
 
After an attack on the border between Israel and Egypt led to their worst flareup in tensions in a decade, some influential Israeli defense experts are questioning whether it is time to revisit a fundamental part of the 1979 peace treaty that has become a pillar of regional stability. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Sudan

Rebels in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where armed conflict is inflaming tensions between the government and the newly independent Republic of South Sudan, are not only preparing for a protracted war in the region but also vowing to take the fight nationwide to pursue political change in Sudan. – New York Times

Afghanistan

Sixty-seven U.S. troops died last month in the Afghanistan war, nearly half of them killed when the Taliban shot down a Chinook helicopter, making August the deadliest month for Americans in the nearly decade-long conflict. – Los Angeles Times
 
President Barack Obama’s decision to pull out 10,000 troops before December and another 23,000 next year has stoked fear among Afghans convinced that the international community’s commitment is coming to a close. Afghans don’t share the U.S.-led coalition’s confidence that Afghan police and soldiers are ready to secure the nation by 2014, and others worry the Afghan economy will collapse if foreign troops go home and donors get stingy with aid. – Associated Press

Pakistan

In the aftermath of the secret U.S. raid to kill Osama bin Laden, Pakistani officials want a detailed agreement spelling out U.S. rules of engagement inside Pakistan, officials in both countries say, but Washington’s refusal to sign a binding document threatens to create another point of friction in the long-troubled relationship. – Associated Press

China

A Pentagon report has found that a multibillion-dollar Chinese telecommunications company that has been seeking to make major inroads in the U.S. market has close ties to China's military, despite the company’s denials. – Washington Times
 
China is expanding its economic and political ties with countries across Africa, resulting in a rapid rise in influence here that has sparked concern from the U.S. government. – Wall Street Journal

India

Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fire over the border that divides the disputed province of Kashmir late Wednesday night, military officials in both countries said Thursday. – New York Times
 
Josh Rogin reports: For Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), the path to reelection might go through New Delhi. He's pushing the Obama administration to nominate former California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who recently endorsed him, as the next ambassador to India. – The Cable
 
Sadanand Dhume writes: Most observers agree that the Hazare movement has awakened the traditionally inward-looking Indian middle class to a public cause. Now the newly awakened need to go a step further and start voting, running for office, and backing candidates who embody their values. With economic growth and urbanization, the size and influence of this potential constituency will only grow. For their part, India's stratified and lumbering parties need to see the writing on the wall. For the first time since India's independence, the old politics of caste and religion faces a serious challenge. The first party to grasp this will do both itself and the nation a favor. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Japan

Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, picked a cabinet of fresh faces Friday to help him guide a country struggling in the wake of its recent natural and nuclear disasters and chronic economic slump. – New York Times
 
As Japan readies this month to cancel its “evacuation preparation zone” — the ring just beyond the 12.4-mile no-entry radius — the long-term viability of the region depends on people returning to their towns and accepting the new risks. For cities such as Minamisoma, the largest in this ring, the next months will determine whether they wither or endure. That’s why officials here are pushing for people to return, even before they know the outcome of frenzied decontamination efforts. – Washington Post

Taiwan

Taiwanese presidential challenger Tsai Ing-wen said that Taiwan should take its time to develop trade and tourism links with China, in an interview that highlighted a shift that ties between Taipei and Beijing might undergo if she defeats incumbent Ma Ying-jeou, who has fast-tracked relations with the island's giant neighbor. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Korean Peninsula

South Korea said on Friday that it would allow a 37-member Buddhist delegation to visit North Korea in a sign that it might be ready to ease restrictions on civilian contacts with the North. – New York Times
 
Police detained nearly three dozen activists and villagers Friday on the southern island of Jeju who have been camping for months to resist the construction of a naval base at their scenic seashore village. – New York Times

Burma

Lorenzo Tanada writes: All those who care about the rights and dignity of the citizens of Burma should support the call for a commission of inquiry. Without accountability, allegations of grave human rights violations will continue to poison the development of Burma and Asean. – Wall Street Journal Asia (subscription required)

Australia

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard vowed on Friday to battle on as leader of her unpopular government, dismissing media reports that some of her own lawmakers had lost faith in her after a fresh policy setback this week. - Reuters

The War

In the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the agency has undergone a fundamental transformation. Although the CIA continues to gather intelligence and furnish analysis on a vast array of subjects, its focus and resources are increasingly centered on the cold counterterrorism objective of finding targets to capture or kill. – Washington Post
 
More details of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound are emerging — this time concerning the long-range communications and planning for the assault — with the sources coming from an intelligence agency and the aerospace industry. – Aviation Week
 
The U.S. government has doled out more than $35 billion in homeland-security grants to state and local governments over the past decade.  Yet even as questions persist about how effective the spending has been, officials are bracing for belt-tightening cuts. – National Journal

Defense

The U.S. Army may cut 10 of its 45 active-duty brigade combat teams (BCTs) as it works to meet President Obama's order to slice defense spending, said an Army official familiar with the budget deliberations. – Defense News
 
The U.S. Air Force is planning to lift the four-month grounding of its F-22 Raptor fleet, although it has yet to figure out what went wrong in the aircraft's oxygen system, sources said. – Defense News
 
Technicians with the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program have found and corrected a problem with part of the aircraft's wing structure. – Defense News
 
As intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance expands into new sections of the electromagnetic spectrum, new capabilities are emerging – often within existing programs – to take on missions in cyber, electronic and information warfare. – Aviation Week
 
Josh Rogin reports: Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides said yesterday that the State Department doesn't want to get into a budget battle with the Pentagon over funding, but that he's aware that dwindling national security funding may make competition inevitable. – The Cable
 
Mackenzie Eaglen writes: This messy and shoddy process can only produce a flawed budget that is not backed by any meaningful strategic defense policy. And this can only contribute to a defense budget freefall that lacks genuine trade-off but inflicts potentially permanent damage on today's military as we know it. – AOL Defense

Missile Defense

The Sept. 1 failure of Raytheon’s new SM-3 IB ballistic missile killer to intercept a target during its first end-to-end flight test is the latest disappointment for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) flight-test program. – Aviation Week
 
Turkey is set to host a NATO early-warning radar system as part of improved defenses for the Western military alliance, the foreign ministry said on Friday. - Reuters

United States of America

WikiLeaks on Thursday confirmed reports that it has lost control of a cache of U.S. diplomatic cables that it has been publishing in recent months, saying a security breach has led to the public disclosure of hundreds of thousands of the unredacted documents. – Wall Street Journal
 
The full publication of the cables will hugely enlarge a window on American diplomacy that first opened in November when WikiLeaks and several news organizations, including The New York Times, started publishing selected cables…But the release of the unedited texts of all the cables will make meaningless past efforts by WikiLeaks and journalists to remove the names of vulnerable people in repressive countries, including activists, academics and journalists, who might face reprisals for speaking candidly to American diplomats. – New York Times

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday pledged to work with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to reorganize the lower chamber’s committees that oversee homeland security issues. – The Hill
 
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) decried the specter of defense cuts hanging over the congressional supercommittee, accusing President Obama of turning the military into a “political pawn.” – The Hill

Russia

Russian court officers raided BP PLC's Moscow office on Wednesday seeking documents in a court case related to the British giant's failed arctic deal with OAO Rosneft, raising the pressure on BP just a day after Rosneft said it would work on the project with Exxon Mobil Corp. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Ukraine

Ukraine's government snubbed Russia's demands Thursday for closer economic ties in exchange for cheaper natural gas supplies, raising the temperature in long-running price talks between the two East European neighbors. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Yuliya Tymoshenko and Hryhoriy Nemyria write: America and the West are not Ukraine's protectors, and can only do so much to help preserve our democracy. But we beg readers not to accept Mr. Yanukovych's false promises. Our country, our people and our civil society need your voice in order to feel empowered to help ourselves. If we work together to advance common values and common interests, and sidestep propaganda in the name of plain-speaking, Ukraine can still revive its democracy and assure its place in Europe and in the world's community of democracies. – Wall Street Journal

Belarus

Four Belarusian activists jailed in connection with last year's contentious presidential election have been freed after a pardon from President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

United Kingdom

U.K. authorities charged two more men as part of their investigation into the activist group Anonymous, as law enforcement officials in Europe and the U.S. continue to crack down on those believed to have carried out online attacks. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Europe/Russia

The military campaign over Libya has delivered a serious blow to a project long nurtured at the heart of the European Union: a European military capability independent of the U.S., defense analysts and officials say. – Wall Street Journal
 
Europe’s human rights chief launched a blistering attack Thursday on European governments’ counterterrorism actions, accusing them of helping the United States commit “countless” crimes in the past 10 years. – Associated Press

Mexico

Two women from the world of Mexico City journalism were abducted and slain, their naked, bound bodies found Thursday in a field behind a cemetery, authorities said. – Los Angeles Times
 
Thousands of people have disappeared during Mexico's nearly 5-year-old drug war. But the case of Leon and his colleagues is especially puzzling: fully armed federal officers vanishing on their way to help police a violence-ridden town. – Los Angeles Times
 
Mexican authorities have arrested a police officer in connection with an attack last week on a casino in the city of Monterrey that killed 52 people, the attorney general's office said on Thursday. - Reuters

Sub-Saharan Africa

At least 22 people died in clashes between Christian and Muslim youths and security forces in the restive Nigerian city of Jos on Thursday, a local mortuary official said, in the second day of violence there this week. - Reuters

Horn of Africa

Two Kenyan politicians and a radio presenter meticulously planned and organised attacks on civilians to unleash a wave of violence after Kenya's disputed 2007 election, the war crimes court heard Thursday. - Reuters

Democracy and Human Rights

Evgeny Morozov writes: As countries like Belarus, Iran and Myanmar digest the lessons of the Arab Spring, their demand for monitoring technology will grow. Left uncontrolled, Western surveillance tools could undermine the “Internet freedom” agenda in the same way arms exports undermine Western-led peace initiatives. How many activists, finding themselves confronted with information collected using Western technology, would trust the pronouncements of Western governments again? – New York Times

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