U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken responsibility for security failures in the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans. In an interview with CNN on Monday, Clinton said that she is in charge of over 60,000 people working for the State Department across the world. The statement came as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have come under increasing criticism over the Benghazi attack by the Mitt Romney campaign coming into the November 6 presidential election. Republicans have questioned the handling of security prior to the attack, and have accused the Obama administration of shifting explanations afterward. Clinton said, "The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision." Her remarks came the day before the second presidential debate, during which Romney is likely to use the Benghazi attack against Obama’s foreign policy. Earlier this week, the father of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack, said it would be "abhorrent" for his son’s death to be politicized.
The U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said he welcomes "ideas from all sides" as he appealed to Iran and Iraq for help in negotiating a Syrian ceasefire for the Eid al-Adha holiday. As tensions with its neighbor have recently escalated, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to discuss the situation in Syria. Additionally, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Luxembourg with EU ministers. Russia has traditionally been an ally of Syria, and along with China, has repeatedly blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions against the government of Bashar al-Assad. British Foreign Minister William Hague said, "I can’t say that we made any progress." Meanwhile, clashes continue in Aleppo. According to the British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, government forces bombarded two opposition controlled districts in northeast Aleppo, al-Shaar and Karm al-Habal. Additionally, opposition fighters and Syrian troops clashed in Jdeideh, north of the ancient citadel. Syrian warplanes reportedly bombed several towns in the northwestern Idlib province. As violence progresses, the United States has expressed concern over weapons flows into Syria after the New York Times reported that arms sent through Saudi Arabia and Qatar to the Syrian opposition are going to jihadist groups. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told the U.N. Security Council that Lebanon’s militant group, Hezbollah, has been increasingly involved in the Syrian conflict and actively supporting the Assad regime.
- About 120 prisoners escaped from Libya’s al-Judaida prison on Monday after a policeman threw a set of keys into a cell, according to security officials. Nearly half have been recaptured.
- The EU approved new sanctions on Iran, the most severe since July, aimed at pushing Iran into negotiations on its contested nuclear development program.
- Israel’s parliament dissolved itself and approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s January 22, 2013 date for elections, originally scheduled for October 2013.
- Egypt’s state prosecutor is investigating allegations that two Muslim Brotherhood leaders provoked violence against anti-Morsi protesters on Friday.
Arguments and Analysis
‘Tentative Jihad: Syria’s Fundamentalist Opposition’ (International Crisis Group)
"Prematurely and exaggeratedly highlighted by the regime, belatedly and reluctantly acknowledged by the opposition, the presence of a powerful Salafi strand among Syria’s rebels has become irrefutable. That is worrisome, but forms only part of a complex picture. To begin, not all Salafis are alike; the concept covers a gamut ranging from mainstream to extreme. Secondly, present-day Syria offers Salafis hospitable terrain – violence and sectarianism; disenchantment with the West, secular leaders and pragmatic Islamic figures; as well as access to Gulf Arab funding and jihadi military knowhow – but also adverse conditions, including a moderate Islamic tradition, pluralistic confessional make-up, and widespread fear of the kind of sectarian civil war that engulfed two neighbours. Thirdly, failure of the armed push this past summer caused a backlash against Salafi groups that grabbed headlines during the fighting."
‘Iraq suffers from its chaotic foreign policy‘ (Ranj Alaaldin, The Guardian)
"Iraq has no national foreign policy. For the past decade, a lack of unity among its ruling elite has failed to allow for a unified approach towards its international relations – one that could have protected the country from becoming a playground for outside powers, with disastrous consequences for its political and security stability.
The consequences are particularly telling today. The conflict in neighbouring Syria has placed Iraq in a pivotal position: sitting between Iran and Syria, but also bordering Turkey, it can either help bring the end of the Assad regime or complicate those efforts.
Since the withdrawal of US troops last year, Iraq has certainly become more assertive internationally under the leadership of its prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who has just purchased Russian arms worth $4.2bn, in defiance of the US and to the concern of the country’s Kurds, who fear these weapons could one day be used against them."
–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |
Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge.| The E-Ring |