- Rice: Congress must authorize AUMF, president needs "recourse to all elements of American power"
- U.N. nuclear watchdog: "essential and urgent" for Iran to address nuke program
- After Suez terror attempt, Egypt expands anti-jihadist campaign with Apache helicopters
- After Liberal victory, analysts expect boost in Australian-Israeli relations
What we’re watching today:
- National Security Adviser Susan Rice addressed the New America Foundation today and forcefully argued that Congress should approve President Barack Obama's request for an authorization for the use of military force against Syria. Rice emphasized that denying the President's request would not just negatively impact the U.S.'s ability to affect the Syrian conflict, but would be taken as an indication that "the United States is not prepared to use the full range of tools necessary to keep our country safe." She called attention to the need for presidential flexibility, arguing that "any president, Republican or Democrat, must have recourse to all elements of American power to design and implement our national security policy — diplomatic, economic or militaristic President's flexibility on foreign affairs." The administration is launching what the Washington Post describes as “an intensive public and private lobbying push,” which will include a prime-time address to the American public on Tuesday. Syrian media, meanwhile, is gloating that the request for authorization is "the start of the historic American retreat" from the global stage. Congress is expected to begin voting on the request as early as Wednesday.
- The head of the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog declared today that it was "essential and urgent" for Iran to address international concerns regarding its nuclear program, emphasizing that Tehran must cease stonewalling inspections of its enrichment activities and what is widely suspected to be weaponization work. Yukiya Amano was explicit that the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) could not substantiate, due to a lack of cooperation from Tehran, Iranian claims that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful. Amano’s statements echoed comments made by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, who last week said that the U.S. is troubled by recent developments. Power specifically cited work at Iran's Arak facility, which if developed further will position the Islamic republic to produce materials sufficient for the production of two plutonium-based nuclear bombs every year. Alongside its plutonium work, Iran has - per the most recent IAEA report [PDF] - continued to lock in nuclear infrastructure that will enable Tehran to produce a uranium-based nuclear bomb. The U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) estimates that [PDF] Iran will have that capability - which would see the Islamic republic dashing across the nuclear finish line before Western powers could detect and intervene - by mid-2014.
- Egypt has expanded an ongoing anti-terrorism campaign in the Sinai Peninsula targeting jihadist networks that have in recent months deepened and consolidated efforts to foment instability and violence in the territory and beyond.The Egyptian army deployed helicopters to back troops that have been operating near the border between the Sinai and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The campaign comes in the wake of an assassination attempt on the interior minister of Cairo's army-backed interim government, and after Egyptian security officials foiled a terror plot targeting the Suez Canal. Suez Canal Authority sources said a rocket-propelled grenade was used in an attack, which targeted a container ship and sent shock waves through insurance and shipping markets. Keeping the Suez Canal open and stable is broadly considered to be a key U.S. geopolitical interest. Analysts have also pointedly noted that U.S. arms are proving critical to Egyptian army's campaign to stabilize the Sinai and prevent further attacks.
- The results of Australia's election Saturday night, which saw Tony Abbott's Liberal Party sweep into power, are expected to result in stronger relations between Canberra and Jerusalem. Abbott had been enthusiastic about describing himself as "a friend of Israel – always have been, always will be," and he criticized Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government for allowing bilateral relations to slip. Further down on the ballot list, the Green Party found itself scrambling to address accusations that some of its members supported efforts to boycott Israel, a position that became a political liability in local elections. Australian media reported last month that a future government "would also take a harder line against the ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ campaign against Israel."
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