- U.S. lawmakers call for "immediate steps" to prevent Iran from going nuclear, urge Senate to pass new sanctions
- Analysts: Turkey army reshuffle "underlines full government control" over military procurement
- Gaza-based Salafists claim responsibility for Sinai Peninsula rocket attack on Israel
- BBC: Morsi supporters targeting Egyptian Christians as part of "further backlash"
What we’re watching today:
- Top U.S. lawmakers are calling for "immediate steps" to increase pressure on Iran, urging the Senate to enact new sanctions as "the only way to persuade the Iranian leadership to change course." Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) published the call in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Engel has been a leading figure on Iran in the House, and was a co-sponsor of the recently passed Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013, which overwhelmingly passed the House by a vote of 400-20. Parallel legislation sponsored by Kirk is making its way through the Senate. The article penned by the two emphasizes that "Iran did not hold a free and fair [presidential] election earlier this summer" but rather one in which "the Iranian people were forced to choose between a select group of regime insiders who had been carefully vetted and hand-picked by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei." Hassan Rouhani - who won the election and who has been criticized this week for assembling a foreign policy cabinet stacked with figures from Iran's security establishment - is according to Kirk and Engel "no reformer" but instead a Khamenei loyalist. The piece is bluntly titled "Without Stronger Sanctions, Iran Will Go Nuclear."
- Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system yesterday intercepted a rocket fired from the Egypt-controlled Sinai Peninsula and aimed at the southern resort city of Eilat. The incident comes as analysts are expressing pointed concerns that attacks from the increasingly anarchic Sinai may eventually force Israel to take direct action on Egyptian soil against jihadists firing into the Jewish state. The Egyptian army is currently engaged in a wide-ranging campaign to uproot terrorist infrastructure in the territory, and Egyptian military officials claim that as part of the campaign they recently attacked a jihadist missile team. The Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem, a Salafist group based out of the Gaza Strip, blamed Israel for the raid on the missile team. The group took responsibility for firing the rocket on Eilat, which the organization declared was part of making "the Jews... pay dearly."
- Turkey's Hurriyet discusses recent promotions and demotions in the country's military, concluding that they highlight the extent to which Ankara's ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party is succeeding in eroding the influence of army figures. The article specifically deals with defense procurement issues. An annual reshuffling, the article states, "underlines full government control over defense procurement decisions in the future." More broadly, the personnel shifts - which involved interventions by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan - have been described as "the latest blow to Turkey’s beleaguered officer corps." Meanwhile Erdogan announced this week that the government will clamp down on future anti-government protests.
- The BBC reports on "a further backlash" against Egypt's Christians, who have found themselves increasingly subject to physical attacks - up to and including several murders - at the hands of Islamists who support former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The outlet notes that while "the Coptic Orthodox Church is one of Christianity's oldest," Islamist extremists have since July launched attacks against Copts, "holding them partly responsible" for the army moves that removed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood-linked government from power. Scores of Christian homes and buildings have been defaced and burned. Last week a 10-year-old girl walking home from Bible class was shot in the chest and killed, making her, according to Amnesty International, the seventh Christian murdered in recent sectarian violence across Egypt. The systematic religiously driven violence is in tension with claims made last year by Brotherhood figures - and by some Western foreign policy analysts -to the effect that Egyptian Islamists were ideologically prepared to form a pluralistic government guaranteeing equal rights and protections to Egypt's religious minorities.
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