Aim of raid on Syria would be to restore ‘red line’ and signal Iran
WASHINGTON — The goal of the cruise missile strikes the United States is planning to carry out in Syria is to restore the smudged “red line” that President Barack Obama drew a year ago against the use of poison gas.
If carried out effectively, the strikes may also send a signal to Iran that the White House is prepared to back up its words, no small consideration for an administration that has proclaimed that the use of military force remains an option if the Iranian leadership insists on fielding a nuclear weapon.
But the military strategy that the Obama administration is considering is not linked to its larger diplomatic strategy of persuading President Bashar Assad of Syria to yield power and join in negotiations that would end the bloody civil war.
Even if the U.S.-led attack includes allied aircraft, the options under consideration by Obama for Syria — one or two days of cruise missile strikes from at least four U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea — would not amount to the sort of open-ended campaign that might compel Assad to negotiate a transfer to a transitional government.
—Michael R. Gordon, The New York Times
Indonesia raises key interest rate
HONG KONG — The Indonesian central bank became the latest to raise interest rates on Thursday in a desperate attempt to shore up a currency that has been badly hit by the recent sell-off shaking emerging markets around the world.
The Indonesian central bank’s move, announced at a hastily called board meeting, raised the benchmark rate by half a percentage point to 7 percent and highlighted the increasing pressure that many of the world’s largest developing economies have been facing as market sentiment has turned against them.
International investors’ shift away from emerging markets has dragged down stocks and currencies around the globe, depriving them of the cash that fueled their previous growth spurts and raising the cost of crucial imports like oil. Hit hardest have been those countries that, like Indonesia, have trade deficits and are thus more risky in the eyes of investors.
—Bettina Wassener, The New York Times
Verizon seeks to buy out Vodafone’s stake in its wireless unit
LONDON — Verizon Communications and Vodafone moved one step closer Thursday to parting ways. Vodafone, the British telecommunications giant, confirmed that it was in talks to sell to Verizon its 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless.
The future of Verizon Wireless had been in the balance in recent months after speculation surfaced that Vodafone would sell its holding in the joint venture, a deal that analysts said could be worth up to $125 billion.
Verizon is still the No. 1 cell phone carrier in the United States by market share, but it faces formidable competition from AT&T, the No. 2 carrier. The smaller carriers, Sprint and T-Mobile USA, offer lower-cost phone and data plans to try to compete, but AT&T and Verizon still account for two-thirds of overall subscribers.
For Verizon, the challenge will be proving to investors that there will be financial benefits to having complete ownership of its wireless unit. For Vodafone, the world’s second-largest cell phone operator behind China Mobile, an influx of cash would allow it to strengthen its core European operations, which have struggled because of the Continent’s financial woes.
—Mark Scott and Brian X. Chen, The New York Times