Egypt. Newly appointed prime minister Hisham Qandil has reportedly chosen candidates for a majority of the open cabinet positions, and will present his choices to President Morsi this week. The formation of the cabinet has been marked by repeated delays, but the full roster is expected to be announced within the next week.
Iraq. As Syrian refugees fleeing to Iraq are reportedly being met with a less than hospitable reception, the Iraqi National Security Council is debating how best to manage the borders and refugee issues. Whether changes will be made to the current system of holding refugees in buildings near the border remains to be seen.
Lebanon. Amid concerns that recent cross-border attacks tied to the Syrian crisis could destabilize Lebanon, Lebanese military officials are attempting to reassure the public this week that the country’s border is secure and is being closely monitored. In a statement on Monday, Lebanese general Jean Kahwagi declared: “whatever the outcome of the events in Syria, the army will remain fully prepared to take up its national responsibilities…in order to minimize the impact of these events on Lebanon and protect the people of border areas…”
Syria. The battle for Aleppo continues in Syria as the military shells rebel forces in several areas of the city. Despite the bombardment, Syrian activists claim that the opposition has maintained control of strategic areas in the city. Clashes in Damascus, Deraa, Hama, Homs, and Idlib have also been reported as the Syrian National Council has called on the international community to provide the rebels with heavy weapons to counter the military’s use of force.
Regional. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visits Tunisia, Israel, Egypt, and Jordan this week. The Syrian crisis and Iran’s nuclear ambitions are expected to dominate his discussions with officials during his five-day tour of the region.