Syrian Realities — The Wall Street Journal reveals Syria’s embattled regime “laid plans to use Russian banks as part of an emergency effort to sidestep American and European sanctions on oil and financial transactions.” On the ground, the Los Angeles Times reports from Aleppo, where some Syrian activists fear that the offensive in the country’s biggest city may lead to a humanitarian crisis that ultimately “undermines the revolution by turning the city against them.”
Battle Looms — U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Associated Press Monday that Pakistan has informed American military officials it plans to launch combat operations against Taliban and Al-Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani network militants in tribal areas near the Afghan border. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Dawn analyses an Independence Day speech given by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army, that pledged to eradicate militancy from the country.
Following the Money — The New York Times is the latest to report details behind U.S. probes into GOP donor Sheldon Adelson’s Macau operations, citing his “chief Beijing representative, a mysterious businessman named Yang Saixin.” It wrote: “Mr. Yang, along with tens of millions of dollars in payments the Sands made through him in China, is a focus of a wide-ranging federal investigation into potential bribery of foreign officials and other matters in China and Macau.”
Rakhine’s Refugees — Al Jazeera English gains exclusive access to refugee camps in Burma’s Rakhine state, where 70,000 people have been displaced, following violent clashes in June between the Rakhine Buddhist majority and the Rohingya Muslim minority. Homes were burnt to the ground, prompting villagers to flee. Many of the Rohingya continue to live in tent shelters set up outside of town, and rely on food rations provided by aid groups. Footage of the refugee camps can be viewed here.
Building Allies — As Japan announced that it will meet with North Korean officials for the first time in four years, Reuters writes that China has “promised to help major firms invest in impoverished neighbour North Korea, signalling strong support for the North’s untried young leader just as he is believed to be planning reforms to his country’s broken economy.” It coincides with an upcoming visit to China by Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, this week.
Asylum for Assange? — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “should find out whether he has been granted political asylum in Ecuador by the end of the week,” the Daily Telegraph reports. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden regarding allegations of rape and sexual assault. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said in a television interview: “We have to look at the possibility that he may be extradited to the United States, that there may be a secret court there, that he may face the death penalty.”