January 5th, 2012
09:43 AM ET

Roundup: European Union agrees on Iran oil embargo

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The European Union agreed in principle to impose an oil embargo that would ban member states from purchasing Iranian oil. The EU is the second largest consumer (DerSpiegel) of Iranian oil, with Greece, Italy, and Spain being the largest importers.

The decision comes amid an ongoing standoff between the West and Iran over the latter's nuclear program (NYT). Western leaders have called for Iran to cease enriching uranium, a process considered necessary for building a nuclear bomb. But Iran insists its nuclear program is only for civilian purposes.

The EU move follows fresh U.S. financial sanctions on Iran's central bank. Iran responded by threatening Western ships operating in the Strait of Hormuz, accelerating tensions in the Persian Gulf (WSJ).

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Sanctions over Iran's nuclear program have triggered threats involving the strategic Strait of Hormuz and new debate over the methods chosen to pressure Tehran, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.

This CFR Crisis Guide traces Iran's history, its evolution as an Islamic republic, and its controversial nuclear program.

CFR's Captain Bradley S. Russell (USN) and Max Boot argue in this Wall Street Journal op-ed that Iran must realize that by initiating direct hostilities in the Strait of Hormuz, it risks U.S. retaliation against their covert nuclear weapons program.


Deadly Bombings in Baghdad

Insurgents launched a series of attacks on Shiite neighborhoods (NYT) in Baghdad today, killing at least twenty-four people. The bombings were thought to be carried out by al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni group.

As the last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in December, an emerging political battle among the country's top leaders has raised concerns over its stability. It underscores the difficult road ahead for the fragile democracy and potential for greater violence, says CFR's Ned Parker in this interview.

SYRIA: Anti-government activists accused President Bashar al-Assad's regime of misleading Arab League observers (al-Jazeera) by taking them to areas loyal to the government. The monitors, who arrived on December 27, conceded that Syrian security forces have continued to kill opposition forces.


North Korea Criticizes Japan

North Korea reprimanded Japan for showing a lack of respect (WSJ) by holding a security meeting in the wake of former leader Kim Jong-il's death last month, while calling Tokyo the "laughing stock of the world" for its many changes in government.

Following the death of leader Kim Jong-il, the transition of power in North Korea could see Pyongyang engaging in further provocative activities, says CFR's Paul Stares in this video.

AUSTRALIA: The government said it would not pay a ransom to suspected Muslim separatists (SMH) in the southern Philippines who took hostage Australian citizen Warren Rodwell last month. The kidnappers released a video of Rodwell asking for $2 million in exchange for his life.


Taliban Murder Pakistani Troops

The Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, claimed to have killed fifteen Pakistani paramilitary soldiers (ExpressTribune) who were abducted last month, and dumped their bodies in North Waziristan near the Afghan border.

Pakistan has emerged as a terrorist sanctuary for some of the world's most violent groups–including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and homegrown militants–that threaten the stability of Pakistan as well as the region, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

AFGHANISTAN: President Hamid Karzai said he welcomed the Taliban's decision (NYT) to open a political office in Qatar in order to explore peace negotiations with the United States, though doubts remained over his level of commitment.


Deadly Rebel Attacks in Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo army said at least twenty-six people have been killed (BBC) in attacks by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)–so-called Hutu rebels–on villages in South Kivu province since the start of January.

NIGERIA: Two bombs exploded in the northern city of Maiduguri, while a gun battle in a nearby town killed at least one civilian. Radical Islamist group Boko Haram (Reuters) is suspected of the attacks, the first since President Goodluck Jonathan imposed a state of emergency this past weekend.

Widening violence by Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram has caused concerns about its possible links to international terrorist groups, explains this CFR Backgrounder.


Obama to Unveil New Defense Strategy

U.S. President Barack Obama will visit the Pentagon today to announce the results of a strategic review of U.S. defense priorities (WashPost) that will likely call for a downsized military in light of anticipated cuts to the Pentagon's budget.

Lawmakers are considering sharp cuts to defense spending as part of mandated deficit-reduction efforts. This CFR Backgrounder discusses the effects of such major cuts and implications for U.S. military strategy.

MEXICO: Members of the rival Gulf and Zeta drug cartels (AP) clashed in a Mexican prison in the Gulf Coast city of Altamira, leaving thirty-one people dead.


German President Refuses to Step Down

German President Christian Wulff said he will not resign from his post despite being accused of attempting to halt the publication of a newspaper report (DeutscheWelle) that detailed his involvement in a home loan scandal.


Small Businesses Created 55,000 Jobs in December

Small businesses created 55,000 jobs (Reuters) and increased work hours for employees last month. The overall perception of the job market is improving, according to an online payroll system.

RAIL: California high-speed rail development is likely to be delayed (LA Times) by a public interest review panel. Though California Governor Jerry Brown has asked the state Legislature to issue a $9 billion bond for the state's bullet train development, the independent panel has declared the project to be financially infeasible.

Renewing America is a special CFR project focused on the domestic underpinnings of U.S. global competitiveness, including the debt and deficit, infrastructure, education, innovation, trade, and corporate regulation and taxes.

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Iran

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. David Edwards

    Just finished a post on my blog about a "nuclear Iran" @ thesocialmatrix dotblogspotdotcom check it out and let me know what you think I'm trying to get as much traffic to my blog as I can.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:55 am | Reply
    • Nilesh

      Paul have never heard Cole suroppt more aggressive actions towards Iran. Could you provide some evidence that would back up those claims

      February 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  2. Onesmallvoice

    This just goes to show just how much the right-wing thugs in Washington are now running things in Europe. Then again, there are no decent leaders in Europe nowadays, only a bunch of amoral, useless bureaucrats!!!

    January 5, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      Thank you, Onesmallvoice. You pretty much said it all.

      January 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Reply
  3. alsestani wal khameni kelab mojremeen awald mot3a

    نقول لأوغلو لا حياة لمن تنادي فإيران مستمرة في دعم الإجرام الأسدي في سوريا والفتنة الطائفية في لبنان والعراق ولن تتراجع حتى لو استمرت المنطقة في صراع ودمار وظلام لأن سياسة ايران يرسمها أصحاب عمائم لا علاقة لهم بالسياسة والتحضر ولا هم لهم سوى وصايا امام السرداب

    January 5, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Reply
    • Chouaib

      Eric/Richard,Thank you for piknicg up on today's NYT article and bringing it to everyone's attention.Scott

      February 12, 2012 at 12:43 am | Reply

    Israeli police have issued restraining orders to a dozen settlers barring them from entering the occupied West Bank.

    The Israeli military described the group as "extremists" suspected of involvement in violence targeting Palestinians and Israeli forces.

    The bans run for up to nine months.

    Israeli authorities have announced plans to stop so-called "price tag" attacks carried out by Jewish extremists in response for any action taken against settlement expansion.

    There has recently been a series in arson attacks on mosques and a reported rise in vandalism against private Palestinian property.

    Israeli military bases in the West Bank have also been targeted. Israeli soldiers are based in the territory to protect Jewish settlers but are also responsible for carrying out demolition orders of illegal outposts.

    According to Israeli public radio restraining orders were handed out in two right-wing settlements close to Nablus, Yizhar and Elon More, and three outposts.

    The IDF statement said they were the result of "a specific security necessity", issued "after exhausting all other alternatives."

    It said the Shin Bet internal security service had gathered information that "the group of extremists has been involved in leading, directing and executing violent and clandestine activity targeting Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and security forces operating in the area, therefore endangering lives and disrupting public order".

    "New steps"

    Last month, after an incident at an Israeli army base, the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said a list of administrative measures was being taken.

    Israeli soldiers are brought in to stop clashes between settlers and Palestinians Under the new regulations, the army will now have the authority to detain offenders, as well as the police, and they will be tried in military courts rather than in civilian courts.

    In the past, Israeli police have made arrests of individuals suspected of being behind "price tag" violence but none has been charged.

    The Palestinians have criticised what they see as a lack of serious action by Israel to stop the attacks on their communities.

    There are more than a hundred Jewish settlements in the West Bank, territory that Israel captured in the 1967 war. They are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

    There are also dozens of outposts which were never authorised by the Israeli government.

    Palestinian officials demand a halt to settlement construction in occupied territory which they describe as "an obstacle to peace".

    January 5, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    The attacks on Shia neighbourhoods (NYT) in Bagdad are extremely worrying.
    The Shia majority in Iraq have after several decades of Sunni rule regained its self-assertiveness. Nevertheless the Sunni minority refuse to identify itself with this Shia nationalism. If it continues to feel disenfranchised and discriminated against by the Shia-led government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, then the violent extremists will attract more recruits to their ranks.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    Time will tell if the E.U. sanctions against Iran would bear fruit.
    The E.U. currently accounts for around 17% of Iranian oil exports. If Europe would stop buying, Iran could turn to countries in Asia to replace its lost trade. They could then take advantage of this situation and ask for a discount.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  7. the shiia and iran doing the killing in iraq it was proven

    جيفري فيلتمان نائب وزيرة الخارجية الأمريكية يؤكد اَن قادة العراق السياسيين قادرون على تدارك الازمة الراهنة في البلاد من دون اية مساعدة خارجية
    نبيل العربي يحذر من القضاء على فرص تحقيق مصالحة حقيقية في العراق ويندد بتفجيرات الخميس الدامية
    رئيس اقليم كردستان العراق يشدد على ان الاكراد لن يشاركوا في اي حكومة قائمة على اساس تهميش المكونات العراقية الاخرى
    البارزاني يحذر من انه في حال إستمرت المشاكل السياسية ولم يجد الائتلاف الحاكم برئاسة المالكي حلولا سريعة فإن الاكراد سيقيّمون كل الاحتمالات

    وكلاء المرجع الديني محمد صادق الصدر في النجف يحذرون من مغبة دخول عصائب أهل الحق في العملية السياسية ويتهموها بممارسة القتل حتى اليوم

    وكلاء المرجع الديني محمد صادق الصدر في النجف يحذرون من مغبة دخول عصائب أهل الحق في العملية السياسية ويتهموها بممارسة القتل حتى اليوم
    دبي-الشرقية 7 يناير: حذر عددٌ من وكلاءِ المَرجع الديني مُحمد محمد صادق الصدر في النجف من مغبةِ دخول ِ عصائب أهل الحق في العمليةِ السياسيةمشيرين إلى أن العصائبَ ارتكبت جرائمَ ومازالت تقتل وتُشرد وتُساوم وتَبتز.وقال عددٌ من وكلاء وطلبةِ السيد محمد الصدر في بيان ان الحديثَ عن المقاومة ومواجهةِ القوات المحتلة بعيدٌ كلَ البعد عن عصائبِ أهل الحق وأفعالِها وان العراقيين لن يَنسوْا ما فعلته العصائب من جرائمَ ومازالت تفعل من قتل ٍ وتشريدٍ ومساومة ووصفوهم بأنهم حية ٌ مَلمسُها ناعمٌ وسُمُها قاتل.. واتهم البيان العصائبَ بقتل ِ عددٍ من منتسبي الأجهزة الأمنية في النجف والديوانية بحجةِ حُرمةِ الانتماء فضلا على تنفيذِ 5337 عملية ً استهدفوا فيها الأبرياءَ بضمنِها اغتيالُ النائب عن الكتلة الصدرية صالح العكيلي.

    January 8, 2012 at 2:32 am | Reply

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