Today’s Headlines

August 22, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Who’s In the News

Comings and goings: Arms control (Laura Rozen, The Envoy)

Moves afoot in the Obama White House arms control shop: National Security Council non-proliferation hand Rexon Ryu has begun work as the deputy to the U.S. representative to the United Nations, heading up the US/UN’s Washington office. Ryu, a former staffer to former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), met with Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides about his new appointment last month, according to Nides’ public schedule. Ryu succeeds Erica Barks-Ruggles, who is off to South Africa to serve as the consul general of the U.S. consulate in Cape Town.

Smart Power

U.S., Allies Make ‘Smart Power’ Play Against Assad (James Kitfield, National Journal)

It turns out that “smart power” is neither pretty to look at, nor quick on its feet. While slow in building, that diplomatic crescendo has had the desired effect of greatly amplifying the Assad regime’s international isolation. A number of experts believe it will also represent an important inflection point, making it increasingly difficult to sketch a plausible scenario under which Assad and his regime could cling to power.

Politics/Foreign Policy

World leaders call on Gaddafi to surrender; Libyan rebels secure most of Tripoli (Thomas Erdbrink and Liz Sly, Washington Post) World leaders called on Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi to surrender Monday after hundreds of rebel fighters swept into Tripoli and secured control of most parts of the capital, heralding an end to his nearly 42-year rule. With rebels surrounding Gaddafi’s headquarters, his son Saif al-Islam captured and reports of government fighters melting away, the six-month-old battle for control of Libya appeared to be in its final stages.

Debt-ceiling agreement providing little help to congressional appropriators (Erik Wasson, The Hill)

Congress is on track to be months late in funding the federal government, despite a debt-ceiling deal that provides appropriators with an overall spending level for 2012, aides and lobbyists said. Part of the problem is the deficit supercommittee set up by the deal. Congressional leaders may want to wait until after its work has been put before Congress in December before moving forward with spending bills. The debt deal put a specific cap on security spending, setting up another battle over how much to lower defense spending and foreign aid—also under the security umbrella – from the House appropriations bill.

Foreign funds for Hamas hit by Syria unrest-diplomats (Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters)

Iran has cut back or even stopped its funding of Hamas after the Islamist movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, failed to show public support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, diplomats said Sunday. Hamas has denied that it is in financial crisis but says it faces liquidity problems stemming from inconsistent revenues from tax collection in the Gaza Strip and foreign aid.

Cambodia shrugs off aid curb (Brian McCartan, Asia Times)

Cambodian leaders have shrugged off a World Bank move this month to suspend new lending due to state-sponsored, large-scale evictions to clear land for development projects. While rising access to private Asian capital, particularly from China, has helped Cambodia weather previous Western donor pressure for reform, the socio-economic costs of the latest sanction could be much higher.