World News Brief, Tuesday January 10

Iran sentences 28 year-old American to death; Iran appears to be bracing for war and driving up oil prices; Merkel & Sarkozy have 976th summit to discuss debt limits and tobin tax; IMF leak says Greece still unable to pay debts; EU running out of patience with Greece as Euro slides; Malaysian opposition leader found not guilty of sodomy; Despite global mockery, Arab League plans to grow observer mission in Syria; and more

Top of the Agenda: Iran Gives American Death Sentence

The Iranian Revolutionary Court sentenced to death an Iranian-American--a former US Marine--on charges of spying for the Central Intelligence Agency (WSJ) and being an enemy of God. The twenty-eight-year-old Amir Mirzaei Hekmati had reportedly been working for a contractor company in Qatar when he visited Iran this past August.

The verdict comes amid mounting tensions between the United States and Iran over the latter's nuclear and military ambitions. The United States and the EU have ratcheted up sanctions against Iran's central bank and oil exports in recent days, prompting missile tests and threats from Iran to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a crucial passageway for global oil shipments.


"The [Iranian] leadership believes the bluster might help them on the domestic front. But in general, right now Iran is trying to convince others that it has a deterrent capacity and one element of that is its claim that it could close the Strait of Hormuz, which would be very costly economically to Iran," says Michael Elleman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in this CFR interview.

"The looming imposition of US sanctions on Iran's Central Bank and by Europe and perhaps Japan and South Korea on Iranian oil exports might force Iran to have to sell its oil to its few remaining customers at a discount from market prices. To make up for this lost revenue, Iran might find saber rattling a useful way of boosting crude oil prices," writes Robert Haddick on

"Regardless of the [Obama] administration's intent, the new measures, which are explicitly designed to throttle the Iranian economy, are being read in Tehran as further evidence that Washington's goal is to force regime-change. That's hardly likely to convince Iran's leaders that they don't need nuclear weapons; on the contrary, Iran appears to be bracing itself for war," writes TIME's Tony Karon.



Malaysian Opposition Leader Acquitted

The Kuala Lumpur High Court found Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim not guilty of sodomy (al-Jazeera) in a trial that was widely deemed to be politically motivated. Anwar vowed to compete in the country's next general election.

SOUTH KOREA: President Lee Myung-bak is in Beijing (BBC) for a three-day state visit, during which he and Chinese President Hu Jintao are expected to discuss policy towards North Korea.

This CFR Crisis Guide provides an interactive, multimedia guide to the dispute between North and South Korea.



Sarkozy & Merkel discuss debt limts and tobin tax

Greece still can't pay off its debts

Arab League plans to add to flailing Syrian observer mission


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on