Afghanistan: On 22 July, UN authorities suspended the voter fraud audit because of unauthorized or improper activities by a person who presented himself as an election observer and was meddling in the audit. The audit will resume on the 24th.
Comment: The latest challenge for the election commission is that it and the presidential parties failed to establish rules controlling the behavior of the representatives of the presidential candidates and of election observers. Another version of the today's incident is that the commission failed to train the representatives and the observers. The poor preparations for this audit almost guarantee that its results will satisfy neither presidential candidate and only will have served to postpone a more serious confrontation.
Iraq: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in Baghdad on 23 July that killed 33 people and wounded 50. The bomb detonated in a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad.
In reaction to the bombing, the Iraqi Council of Representatives postponed for a day a session to elect a new president.
Comment: The bombing is a reminder of ISIL's reach and threat, but it indicates that ISIL still is incapable of attacking Baghdad in an offensive campaign. On the other hand, the few suicide bombings in Baghdad suggest the authorities are complacent about security.
Multiple news services reported that Prime Minister al-Maliki recently rejected Iranian advice conveyed by Iranian Major General Suleimani that al-Maliki not seek another term as Prime Minister. Suleimani is the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force and is leading Iran's military advisors in Iraq.
Comment: Al-Maliki appears to have lost Iran's confidence, but not his own. His State of Law Coalition won the largest bloc of seats in parliament and has the right to form the government. Al-Maliki insists he will head the next government.
Israel: The Israeli security cabinet convened today to discuss a new phase of Operation Protective Edge. Press accounts on 24 July indicated the cabinet decided to expand the Operation.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told Golani Brigade troops on the Gaza border to prepare for the next mission ahead as the Israel Defense Forces reached the end of this stage of locating and destroying tunnels.
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