*John Kerry made an unannounced visit to Baghdad today. He reportedly asked Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to stem an alleged flow of weapons, via Iraqi airspace, from Iran to government forces in Syria. According to the Washington Post, American claims are based on “the sheer volume of flights crossing Iraq.” An official who spoke to the Post “would not say how the United States is certain the planes are carrying weapons for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an Iranian ally, but repeatedly asserted that is the case.”
*A new consensus might be building in Congress around financial regulations – or exemptions for them, anyway. The Hill reports that liberal and conservative legislators have filed public comments with regulators, asking them to exempt community banks from the so-called Basel III rules on capital requirements.
*The Hill’s Briefing Room blog says that the NRA has the upper hand on Obama and Congressional Dems after Republicans distanced themselves from strengthened background checks and Harry Reid threw cold water on an assault weapons ban. Gun control proponents needn’t fret: NRA President and general clown Wayne LaPierre could squander this momentum on “Meet The Press” this morning, where he’ll face off with New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
*Expect China’s relationship with Africa to be in the spotlight this week: Chinese President Xi Jinping is arriving in Tanzania today, and will visit South Africa and the Republic of Congo a few days afterward. The South Africa leg of his tour might be the most significant, from a geopolitical perspective. There, according to Reuters, “leaders of the world’s major emerging economies, known as the BRICS, will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday and could endorse plans to create a joint foreign exchange reserves pool and an infrastructure bank at a summit.”
*More intrigue in the Berezovsky story: Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said that “the exiled businessman had written to Putin asking his forgiveness and seeking to end his exile” before his apparent suicide, according to the Guardian.
Associates said a personal appeal to Putin would not have been inconsistent with Berezovsky’s character or style. “I don’t know for certain, but it could have happened,” said Alexei Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of Ekho Moskvy and a friend and colleague of Berezovsky. “After losing in court to Roman Abramovich he was in a serious depression. He was undergoing treatment.”