Good morning, and welcome to The Rundown.

And happy August recess in the nation’s capital, where it might as well be 1913. No AC? No matter; there's no one here to keep cool. But for the faithful remnant in DC, this one’s for you. Best wishes, Your AEI Foreign and Defense Policy Studies team

Tweet of the Week
Roger Noriega @rogernoriegausa "Investing-in-Cuba for DUMMIES" Step #1: BE a DUMMY. Expert Mauricio Claver-Carone says why: bit.ly/1cli9jo

In the News
Al Qaeda
The State Department issued a global travel alert in response to threats that lawmakers have deemed the most serious threats to emerge from al Qaeda since 9/11. Last week, credible and specific intelligence about a planned attack led officials to shut down most American embassies in the Middle East. Katherine Zimmerman, AEI's Critical Threats Project expert on the al Qaeda network, just published an analysis on recent developm ents. In her piece, she writes: "Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula now poses the most direct threat to the United States homeland of all the affiliates. If AQAP intends to conduct a spectacular attack, a number of factors suggest that it could occur on August 7." For background reading, check out Sasha Gordon's post from May on AEIdeas, "The overlooked threat in Yemen," as well as Katherine Zimmerman's report from earlier this year, " Al Qaeda and its affiliates in 2013."

Iran
Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, replaced the controversial Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and called on the West to abandon the “language of sanctions” in dealing with his country’s nuclear program. In an article for CNN's Global Public Square, Critical Threats Project analyst Will Fulton considers evidence that Ayatollah Khamenei remains the ultimate arbiter of policy in the Islamic Republic. He also asks, "Can Rouhani follow through on some of his more ambitious campaign promises — changing Tehran’s approach to nuclear negotiations, freeing prominent political prisoners, and improving Iran’s relations with countries such as Saudi Arabia — within the confines of the regime’s formal and informal power structures? The most accurate answer at this stage is, 'maybe.'"

Egypt
Several thousand protestors marched through Cairo earlier today to demand the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. Danielle Pletka dishes on Rand Paul's most recent attempt to cut off aid to Egypt in the wake of the military's intervention to topple President Morsi in an AEIdeas blog post: "There was a coup in Egypt, a coup means a cutoff of US assistance, and assistance should have been suspended at the very least. One may not like the law, like the Muslim Brotherhood, like Egypt, or like foreign aid, but the law is the law." For Danielle Pletka's commentary on the foreign policy quarrels within the GOP, see another one of her recent blog posts, "Libertarians still wrong and confused on national security."

Defense
Defense officials petitioned Congress to halt or delay additional budget cuts that threaten to hollow out the military. In a recent blog post for AEIdeas on the results of the Strategic Choices and Management Review, Mackenzie Eaglen argues that the Pentagon is offering an illusion of choice: "Secretary Hagel says the choice will be between a smaller and modern military or a bigger and older one. The harsh truth is that the result of sequestration will actually entail both: The US military is set to become both smaller and less

modern in course of this defense drawdown." On Tuesday, Mackenzie Eaglen will participate in an event at Brookings entitled, "Dissecting the Pentagon's Strategic Choices and Management Review ." Click here to RSVP.

Pakistan
A senior Pakistan Taliban commander revealed details of the brazen raid that resulted in the escape of 254 prisoners, among them 47 senior Taliban leaders. In his latest blog post, Critical Threats Project analyst Reza Jan asks, “Sharif won the election, but can he govern Pakistan?” He writes, “While Sharif and his team are making admirable strides on the economic front, they will need to learn to effectively multitask and to address Pa kistan’s multifarious problems. If the past is any guide to governing Pakistan, problems ignored don’t go into stasis; they exacerbate.” For a full report on security and economic challenges in Pakistan, read Reza Jan's latest report, “The future of Pakistan: What to expect from Nawaz Sharif's new government .”

Best of Blogs
Here is the best of what AEI's foreign and defense policy scholars are reading this week: Job C. Henning at The New York Times says "America and Russia can skip a reboot" Clifford D. May at National Review writes, "Al-Qaeda is back!" Ron Prosor at The New York Daily News discusses "Hezbollah's partial isolation" Evelyn Gordon at Commentary magazine insists, "There's no more time to waste on Iran" Gabriel Schoenfeld at CNN writes, "Bradley Manning betrayed America" Zachary Keck at The Diplomat asks, "Can John Kerry salvage US-Pakistan relations?" Eli Lake at The Daily Beast writes, "Al Qaeda in Iraq Abu Ghraib jailbreak a counterterrorism nightmare" Fiona Hill and Bobo Lo at Foreign Affairs discuss "Putin's pivot" Jeffrey Goldberg at Bloomberg looks at "Seven reasons Kerry's Mideast talks are delusional" Paul Roderick Gregory at Forbes writes, "Putin the predictable: Guest Snowden" Dennis P. Halpin at The National Interest urges, "Don't abandon Taiwan" Gen. Michael Hayden at CNN explains, "Safeguards exist to protect Americans' privacy"

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