FP’s Situation Report: White House urges patience on global crises; No drones for Jordan; U.S. Special Operators stay put in West Africa; and much more from around the world.
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat President Obama is urging “strategic patience” in confronting worldwide crises. Critics want the White House to move faster to quell violence and unrest in Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria. But according to President Barack Obama’s National Security Strategy, which will be unveiled today, a deliberate approach was the president’s intention ...
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat
President Obama is urging “strategic patience” in confronting worldwide crises. Critics want the White House to move faster to quell violence and unrest in Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria. But according to President Barack Obama’s National Security Strategy, which will be unveiled today, a deliberate approach was the president’s intention all along. FP’s Gopal Ratnam with an early look: “The document argues that such an approach was instead part of a carefully constructed strategy designed to ensure that the United States considered all options before getting ensnared in risky and potentially open-ended conflicts.”
The White House: No Predator drones for Jordan. American contractor General Atomics tried to market drones to Jordan. The White House denied the company’s request even though “U.S.-made weapons are viewed as more urgent due to [Jordan’s] participation in the fight against the Islamic State,” FP’s Kate Brannen reports.
More on the Islamic State and Ukraine below.
U.S. Special Ops Forces stay put in the Horn of Africa. Navy SEALs and operators from the Army’s Delta Force have spent years fighting al-Shabab and other terror groups in east Africa. FP’s Seán D. Naylor reports they plan to continue operations there despite suggestions to the contrary. Meanwhile, the top UN official in Somalia (In an earlier version of today’s SitRep, I misidentified the UN official in Somalia as the Somali ambassador to the UN. I apologize for the error.) warns cutting remittances to the war-torn country could kill the country’s fragile economy, reports FP’s Jamila Trindle.
More on Africa below.
PRESS PACK: Crisis in Ukraine
The Washington Post’s Carol Morello and Michael Birnbaum: “The leaders of Germany and France on Thursday announced a surprise diplomatic bid to end the conflict in Ukraine, working to forestall White House deliberations about arming government forces amid fears that the war could quickly spiral out of control.”
The New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon and David M. Herszenhorn: “Despite the burst of activity, the prospects of achieving a new peace plan have been clouded by deep suspicion of Moscow’s aims in Ukraine.”
FP’s John Hudson: “Germany’s top diplomat to the United States cautioned the West to consider the danger of inadvertently escalating the deadly crisis — and triggering a bigger showdown with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”
The Guardian’s Shaun Walker, Ian Traynor, Dan Roberts, and Alec Luhn: Secretary of State John “Kerry also said the US wanted a diplomatic solution but was reviewing all options including ‘the possibility of providing defensive systems to Ukraine.’”
Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin: “There’s a large gap between what the U.S. has promised in non-lethal military aid to Ukraine’s armed forces and national guard and what it has actually delivered.”
Reuters: “NATO defense ministers agreed on Thursday to set up a network of command centers in eastern Europe and more than double the size of its rapid reaction force to better protect the region in the event of any threat from Russia.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Olga Razumovskaya: “Ukrainian rebels have declared a cease-fire in Debaltseve, a Ukrainian held town on the front line in the fighting between thousands of government troops and Russian-backed insurgents, according to Russian news agencies.”
Welcome to Friday’s edition of the Situation Report, where we’re hoping our back holds up better than Tiger’s.
Connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and @davidcfrancis and spread the word about SitRep — your destination for global security news and Washington whatnot. Like what you see? Tell a friend. Tell your colleagues. Don’t like what you see? Tell me. Or holler with tips, reports, or anything else the world needs to know, and I’ll try to include it.
WHO’S WHERE WHEN TODAY
1:00 p.m. National Security Advisor Susan Rice launches President Obama’s National Security Strategy at the Brookings Institution.
Vice President Joe Biden meets members of European Commission and European Parliament in Brussels.
Secretary of State Kerry attends the Munich Security Conference.
WHAT’S MOVING MARKETS
The New York Times’ Melissa Eddy and Jack Ewing on the rift between Germany and Greece over debt: “The stark differences would seem to bode ill for the chances that Greece could negotiate new, easier terms for the billions in financial aid it needs to avoid bankruptcy and, in the worst case, an exit from the eurozone.”
FP’s Keith Johnson on Europe’s fading dreams of energy independence: “The latest blow to Europe’s hopes of pulling off its own energy revolution came late last week, when U.S. oil giant Chevron pulled up stakes in Poland.”
Euobserver’s Benjamin Fox on the European Commission’s prediction for the eurozone: “Economics commissioner Pierre Moscovici said that the failing oil price and a weaker euro would provide a ‘welcome shot in the arm for the EU economy.’”
ISLAMIC STATE: Jordan keeps its promise to up the fight in Iraq and Syria as the brutal extent of the group’s violence against children is revealed.
The New York Times’ Ranya Kadri and Anne Barnard on Jordanian airstrikes against Islamic State targets: “Jordan appeared to be redoubling its participation in the anti-Islamic State coalition, despite the militant group’s threats to shoot down more pilots and its offer of a bounty for any who are captured or killed.”
NPR’s Eyder Peralta on Islamic State cruelty against children: “In a report released on Wednesday, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said it had received reports of ‘several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive.’”
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST: Nigerians flee Boko Haram massacres; drone strikes kill four al Qaeda members in Yemen. Meanwhile, U.S. and Iranian lawmakers fight similar legislative fights.
The New York Times’ Adam Nossiter: “The peril these refugees have escaped is pressing in on Maiduguri — the city has sustained three Boko Haram attacks in the past week and explosions can be heard here every night — providing a rare glimpse into the militant group’s dystopian vision of Islamist rule.”
The New York Times’ Shuaib Almosawa and Rob Nordland on al Qaeda confirming the death of four members in a drone strike in Yemen: “One of them, the statement said, was Harith al-Nadhari, an ideologue who had publicly praised the attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Bill Spindle: “As sanctions hawks in the U.S. Congress butt heads with President Barack Obama over negotiations with Iran, a similar battle on the Iranian side has been playing out between President Hasan Rouhani, who has staked his political future on cutting a deal with the West, and his ultra-hard-line opponents.”
The New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Ashley Parker on the rift between U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and President Obama on Cuba and Iran: “Deep policy and political divisions remain between Mr. Obama and the senator, one of the Democrats best positioned to defend the administration’s foreign policy in Congress.”
SURVEILLANCE: Britain tells Germany to back off on American spying.
The Telegraph’s Justin Huggler: “British intelligence officials have threatened to stop sharing information if Germany presses ahead with a parliamentary inquiry into British and American spying, a German news magazine claims.”
NORTH KOREA: U.S. lawmakers consider more sanctions against Pyongyang.
Reuters’s Patricia Zengerle: “U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday to broaden sanctions against North Korea by imposing stiffer punishments on international companies that do business with Pyongyang.”
HACKING SCANDALS: North Korea’s Sony hack claims a victim, and an American health insurer falls victim to an attack.
The Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang on the resignation of top Sony executive Amy Pascal, “months after she endured a prolonged public relations disaster when hacked private e-mails showed her making racially charged jokes about the president.”
The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and Ellen Nakashima on the security breach at health insurer Anthem: “Investigators suspect Chinese hackers may be responsible for the breach, according to an individual briefed on some aspects of the probe.”
EBOLA: The fight to stop the disease’s spread isn’t over yet.
The BBC on the first weekly increase in Ebola cases in 2015: “The number of new cases of Ebola went up in all three of West Africa’s worst-hit countries in the last week of January, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.”
The Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s Luke Money on former Rep. Buck McKeon’s new consulting firm: The “McKeon Group LLC, will provide ‘strategic analysis, advocacy and comprehensive government relations for its clients.’”
AND FINALLY, FP’s David Francis on a world leader Congress and the White House can agree on: “Pope Francis, the widely popular reformist leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, is scheduled to address a Sept. 24 joint session of Congress during his first visit to the United States.”
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