Der Spiegel published two interviews this week worth close scrutiny. The paper interviewed Ayad Allawi, contender for Iraqi prime minister, and Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran’s foreign minister. Allawi is darkly pessimistic, describing a troubled region descending under an “umbrella of fear.” In stark contrast, Mottaki blithely rejects questioning on Iran’s human rights record and shrugs off both the impact of sanctions and possibility of a military strike on its nuclear facilities.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced significant belt-tightening measures yesterday in hopes of saving the department from externally imposed cuts that could undermine needed resources and capabilities. “My greatest fear is that in economic tough times, people will see the defense budget as the place to solve the nation’s deficit problems, the place to find money for other parts of the government,” Gates said.
Numerous news accounts this morning outline the planned cuts, which are summarized as follows (for a full list, see the slides released on DoD Efficiency Decisions):
The Treasury Department expanded its Iranian blacklist Tuesday, adding 21 new firms it says are owned or controlled by the Iranian government. The list is designed to surgically target those figureheads and companies financing illicit activities – most specifically the nuclear program. (Note: The list names companies based internationally as well as Iran-based; interestingly, Tuesday’s list reveals Germany as a focal point of the latest investigation, with nearly half of the newest designees – 9 of the 21 – as Germany-based firms, primarily out of Dusseldorf.)