- Over 60 dead in Egypt amid Muslim Brotherhood "Day of Rage"
- Analyst: Khamenei "will remain an important obstacle" to any Iran negotiations, diplomats "suffer from a fundamental confusion" over Iran ideology
- Paraguay to open Israel embassy, will seek to bolster ties
- Dempsey: U.S. mission in Jordan could last years as regime buffeted by refugee crisis, domestic extremism
What we’re watching today:
- The Washington Post headlines its late afternoon coverage of the Egyptian crisis as "clashes erupt in Egypt as [Mohammed] Morsi supporters observe 'day of rage'," with the outlet describing "widespread violence involving the security forces, protesters and armed civilians on both sides of the nation’s widening political divide." Roughly 60 people were killed today in nation-wide violence according to the Associated Press. Video circulated over social media sites purported to show Brotherhood protesters "starting uncontrolled fires as security officers attempted to disperse them." Agence France Presse described the nation's Christians as "living in fear after a string of attacks against churches, businesses and homes," part of what Arabic sources had previously characterized as "frenzied" attacks by pro-Morsi factions. Muslim Brotherhood officials hailed what they described as the "glorious heroic scenes" during the day and called for more demonstrations.
- U.S. diplomats seeking to negotiate with Iran "suffer from a fundamental confusion about the nature of the Islamist state" - a result of incorrectly applying assumptions developed while dealing with "opportunistic Arab rulers but not with clerics who take their ideologies seriously" - according to a New York Times op-ed published yesterday by Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Ray Takeyh. Commenting on optimism grounded in the recent presidential inauguration of revolutionary cleric Hassan Rouhani, Takeyh catalogs a list of previous presidents who had sound to "smooth the hard edges of their creed and respond to the populace’s yearning for a normal life" but had found their efforts "circumscribed by the regime’s ideology." He emphasizes that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ultimately sets Iran's posture in nuclear negotiations, and that the Supreme Leader "will remain an important obstacle," regardless of Rouhani's willingness to pursue a more flexible approach to Iranian policies than his predecessor. Today Rouhani appointed outgoing Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi to head Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, a move Reuters described as "a further signal that Rouhani intends to pursue a more flexible approach to Iran's nuclear dispute... than his predecessor."
- Paraguay will reopen its embassy in Israel in the coming weeks, after keeping it shuttered for almost a decade due to budgetary reasons. The country's newly elected President Horacio Cartes informed Israeli officials of the decision on Wednesday. A statement issued by Israel quoted Cartes describing Paraguay's desire to strengthen bilateral ties and pursue a policy that was "independent" from Latin America's often hostile anti-Israel diplomacy. The development will provide another data point to analysts seeking to evaluate claims that Israel is gradually becoming isolated from the international community, alongside evidence of deepening international ties grounded in Israeli security practices and of surging tourism numbers.
- The Defense Department has converted a Jordanian warehouse into a logistical center for coordinating U.S. assistance to Jordan, as the American ally struggles to cope with instability created by a combination of spillover from the Syrian conflict and domestic unrest driven in part by Muslim Brotherhood-linked factions. The New York Times describes the U.S.-built hub, which is staffed by some 273 personnel who assist in a range of operations spanning from humanitarian work to military assistance. Addressing U.S. troops stationed in the country on Thursday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey emphasized that the U.S. mission in Jordan could last years as Amman scrambled to deal with humanitarian crises and extremist threats.
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