U.S. Navy fires on approaching motor boat amid soaring tensions

A U.S. Navy refueling ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates shot at an approaching vessel on Monday, increasing tensions in the region. The USNS Rappahannock, opened fire on what has been determined to be a small Indian fishing boat, after repeated warnings to stop its approach. An Indian fisherman was killed, and ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

A U.S. Navy refueling ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates shot at an approaching vessel on Monday, increasing tensions in the region. The USNS Rappahannock, opened fire on what has been determined to be a small Indian fishing boat, after repeated warnings to stop its approach. An Indian fisherman was killed, and three of the crewmembers were injured. The Indian foreign ministry announced its embassy in Abu Dhabi is investigating the incident. The United States has been ramping up its presence in the Persian Gulf as tensions increase over Iran's nuclear development program. Iran continues to threaten to close the Straight of Hormuz, a vital waterway. Iran criticized the United States over Monday's shooting saying, "We have announced time and again that the presence of foreign forces can be a threat to regional security." In response to increasing tensions, the U.S. officials have announced that the Pentagon is building a missile-defense radar station in Qatar at an unspecified site. Qatar houses the largest U.S. military airbase in the region. The United States is also organizing minesweeping exercises set to begin in September to address threats from Iran to mine the Straight of Hormuz.

Syria

Fighting has reached central Damascus for the first time in the uprising. Clashes were reported on Baghdad Street, a major thoroughfare; near Damascus's Central Bank at Sabaa Bahrat square; and in the western suburb of Midan. Fighting involving helicopters have been reported in the north and northeast of Damascus. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said, "It's very important that 18 months nearly into this conflict with over 100 people on average dying a day, the council do something different to change the dynamic on the ground." Russia says it still will not agree to sanctions as the U.N. Security Council prepares to vote on a new draft resolution on Wednesday. Russia has vetoed two prior draft resolutions on Syria, and maintained it will veto this one as well.  Meanwhile, the United Nations has announced that the number of Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey seeking assistance from it has tripled since April to 112,000. An estimated 1,280 Syrians fled into Turkey overnight including a Syrian brigadier-general and several other defected military officers.

A U.S. Navy refueling ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates shot at an approaching vessel on Monday, increasing tensions in the region. The USNS Rappahannock, opened fire on what has been determined to be a small Indian fishing boat, after repeated warnings to stop its approach. An Indian fisherman was killed, and three of the crewmembers were injured. The Indian foreign ministry announced its embassy in Abu Dhabi is investigating the incident. The United States has been ramping up its presence in the Persian Gulf as tensions increase over Iran’s nuclear development program. Iran continues to threaten to close the Straight of Hormuz, a vital waterway. Iran criticized the United States over Monday’s shooting saying, "We have announced time and again that the presence of foreign forces can be a threat to regional security." In response to increasing tensions, the U.S. officials have announced that the Pentagon is building a missile-defense radar station in Qatar at an unspecified site. Qatar houses the largest U.S. military airbase in the region. The United States is also organizing minesweeping exercises set to begin in September to address threats from Iran to mine the Straight of Hormuz.

Syria

Fighting has reached central Damascus for the first time in the uprising. Clashes were reported on Baghdad Street, a major thoroughfare; near Damascus’s Central Bank at Sabaa Bahrat square; and in the western suburb of Midan. Fighting involving helicopters have been reported in the north and northeast of Damascus. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said, "It’s very important that 18 months nearly into this conflict with over 100 people on average dying a day, the council do something different to change the dynamic on the ground." Russia says it still will not agree to sanctions as the U.N. Security Council prepares to vote on a new draft resolution on Wednesday. Russia has vetoed two prior draft resolutions on Syria, and maintained it will veto this one as well.  Meanwhile, the United Nations has announced that the number of Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey seeking assistance from it has tripled since April to 112,000. An estimated 1,280 Syrians fled into Turkey overnight including a Syrian brigadier-general and several other defected military officers.

Headlines  

Arguments & Analysis 

Kritarchy in Cairo’ (Issandr El Amrani, New York Times, Latitude Blog)

"Some judges are opposing the president because they hate the Muslim Brotherhood; others because they were a core part of the Mubarak-era establishment and are resisting change. Many see themselves as the guardians of the civilian state. Whatever their intentions, though, their joining forces with the military against Egypt’s first democratically elected president smacks of judicial hubris – as well as defensiveness over their complicity with the old regime."

Deadly Uncertainty: The Reason Syria’s Chemical Weapons Are So Dangerous‘ (Sara Sorcher, The Atlantic)

"There is one outcome that could demand international action before that day comes: if Assad deploys chemical weapons against his own people. "The humanitarian consequences would be so grave, and the international outrage so severe, that could lead to a much more substantial intervention," Spector said. Even Assad’s strongest ally, Russia, would be hard-pressed to argue against it. "That is an unspoken red line.""

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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