Boxed In – The New York Times examines Israeli reaction to the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report that sanctions have not slowed Iran’s nuclear program. “With the report that the country has already installed more than 2,100 centrifuges inside a virtually impenetrable underground laboratory, and that it has ramped up production of nuclear fuel, officials and experts here say the conclusions may force Israel to strike Iran or concede it is not prepared to act on its own,” it said.
Talking Points — India’s Firstpost assesses Thursday’s meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran. “[It] was remarkable as much for what was not discussed as for what was,” it wrote. Pakistan’s Dawn agrees: “[It] achieved little beyond [Pakistan] reiterating the desire for close bilateral relations and improved trade and the Indian leader saying little …”
Unusual Dissent – Following Xinhua news agency’s frank assessment that the government’s “failure to minimize deadly man-made accidents” endangers “the people’s trust,” China’s state-run Global Times follows up with another critical commentary. Headlined “Rumors More Credible than Officials for Many Netizens,” it calls for “change in the long-standing mechanisms of information release, in which the authorities pay little attention to interaction with the public.”
Shifting Allegiances – The BBC interviews former Taliban fighters in Herat, Western Afghanistan, who are now siding with the government. One former commander said he joined the Taliban during the arrival of U.S.-led troops, as “they offered security at a time of insecurity.” His “alliance with the Taliban was not ideological but practical,” and it is pragmatism that has led him to switch sides, as he feels the government has become the stronger side. With foreign combat troops set to depart in 2014, he said, “we Afghans have to take the country for ourselves.”
Islam and Russia – Reuters reports on growing signs of insurgency in Russia’s largely Muslim Caucasus mountain lands, with 185 insurgency-related deaths and 168 injuries recorded in the first half of 2012 alone. Meanwhile, the Economist considers whether Tatarstan, another Muslim-majority region in Russia, which has for years been held up as “model of stability and tranquillity,” might be under threat from tensions between traditional Muslims and and the “rising influence” of Salafists, who follow a fundamentalist form of Islam.
Search Ended – Al Jazeera English writes that Australian officials have acknowledged there is no “realistic prospect of survivability” for 44 asylum seekers who went missing at sea en route to Australia, when their overcrowded boat sank in choppy seas. Reigniting the long-running debate on asylum in Australia, Richard Marles, the junior Foreign Minister, said “the emergency highlighted the need for Australia to urgently establish detention camps in the Pacific island states of Papua New Guinea and Nauru to hold asylum seekers who reach Australia by boat.”