FP’s Situation Report: Intel hearings stay public; U.S. still putting peace before guns in Ukraine; Former Guantanamo Bay detainee killed in Afghanistan; and much more from around the world.
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat Intelligence hearings stay public. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has long disliked public hearings on intelligence. He’s changed his tune with Republicans in control of the Senate and plans to hold his first open hearing next week. FP’s John Hudson: “It’s unclear what changed Burr’s mind — ...
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat
Intelligence hearings stay public. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has long disliked public hearings on intelligence. He’s changed his tune with Republicans in control of the Senate and plans to hold his first open hearing next week. FP’s John Hudson: “It’s unclear what changed Burr’s mind — his office would not elaborate on his position — but the about-face will provide some relief to government transparency advocates who believe public hearings are a core aspect of congressional oversight and some disappointment to intelligence officials who loathe the scrutiny of public interrogations.”
Obama agrees to a new diplomatic push before committing to send U.S. weapons to Ukraine. President Barack Obama said he would give diplomats one more chance for peace in Ukraine. If talks fail, he’ll weigh whether to send arms, the Wall Street Journal’s Carol E. Lee, Colleen McCain Nelson, and Anton Troianovski report.
More on Ukraine below.
A former Guantánamo Bay detainee falls in Afghanistan. The Afghan spy agency said Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, a former Taliban member who recently swore allegiance to the Islamic State, was killed in Helmand province by an apparent American drone strike. This is the first known operation against the terror group on Afghan soil. The New York Times’ Joseph Goldstein: “ISIS has announced its interest in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and reportedly has sent envoys there to recruit. And in far-flung corners of Afghanistan, local reports are circulating of mysterious groups of foreign fighters, often flying black flags that are believed to represent the Islamic State.”
Breaking Tuesday morning: The United Arab Emirates is launching airstrikes against the Islamic State from Jordan, the Associated Press reports.
More on the Islamic State below.
PRESS PACK: Ukraine Conflict
The New York Times’ Michael D. Shear and Andrew Higgins: “In a joint White House news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Mr. Obama said he was hopeful that economic sanctions would persuade President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to seize a diplomatic solution.”
Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin: “Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers during a private reception in Germany that he personally supports sending lethal aid to the Ukrainian military.”
The Guardian’s Dan Roberts and Ian Traynor: “Merkel also acknowledged that the success of her negotiations was far from assured — suggesting both leaders see little prospect of preventing Vladimir Putin from continuing to support Ukrainian separatists if he is determined to ride out the economic costs of sanctions.”
The Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe: “The president’s ambivalence regarding arms to Ukraine has separated him from many of his traditional Democratic supporters.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Nick Shchetko and Paul Sonne: “Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military, said that repeated attempts by the rebels to surround and storm the Ukrainian-held transport hub of Debaltseve were an attempt to gain leverage over Kiev in the negotiations.”
Welcome to Tuesday’s edition of the Situation Report, where we were thrilled to see FP’s Rebecca Frankel on Conan last night.
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WHO’S WHERE WHEN TODAY
9:30 a.m. The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on global challenges and U.S. national security strategy. 12:00 p.m. Secretary Kerry meets with National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the White House. 12:15 p.m. Former CIA station chief in Islamabad Robert Grenier presents his book 88 Days to Kandahar at the New America Foundation.
WHAT’S MOVING MARKETS
Bloomberg’s Nikolaos Chrysoloras and Marcus Bensasson: “European leaders urged Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to pare back his ambitions for easing the financial pressure on his people as stocks and bonds tumbled.”
The New York Times’ Andrew E. Kramer on the governor of Russia’s central bank: “The decision to let the ruble fall for the sake of other economic goals is emerging as one of the few consistent Kremlin policies. In the face of falling oil prices and Western sanctions over its Ukraine policy, it is a painful, but necessary, step to wean Russians from imports.”
The Economist on India’s growth catching up with China’s: “Official statistics published on February 9th revealed that India’s GDP rose by 7.5% in 2014, a shade faster than China’s economy managed over the same period.”
ISLAMIC STATE: The Peshmerga makes progress as the Islamic State starts to move fighters out of areas near Aleppo. Meanwhile, the White House is finally asking Congress for a new authorization.
The Wall Street Journal’s Felicia Schwartz: “Coalition officials said the Peshmerga forces seized three strategic corridors that defense officials called bridgeheads north of Mosul along the Tigris River in territory formerly controlled by extremist forces with Islamic State.”
Reuters’s Suleiman al-Khalidi: “Islamic State has withdrawn some of its insurgents and equipment from areas northeast of the Syrian city of Aleppo, rebels and residents say, adding to signs of strain in the Syrian provinces of its self-declared caliphate.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Michael R. Crittenden and Carol E. Lee: “More than six months after the first U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State fighters, the administration will send Congress a legislative proposal setting the parameters for the American role in the fight, congressional and administration officials said.”
IRAN: The war of words between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heats up.
FP’s David Francis: “In Israel, Netanyahu used a campaign appearance Monday to reiterate his opposition to a U.S. nuclear deal with Iran and stress that he was ‘determined to go to Washington to present Israel’s position to the members of Congress and the American people.’
AFGHANISTAN: China steps up its role in Afghanistan.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jeremy Page, Margherita Stancati, and Nathan Hodge: “China’s move toward the role of mediator signals a foreign policy shift in Beijing—for decades focused on domestic issues—that could recalibrate the geopolitics of Central Asia and test China’s capacity as a regional leader, Western officials said.”
EUROPE: French officials see a calculated terror threat while Obama admits NSA spying revelations hurt American standing in Germany.
FP’s Lara Jakes: “The terrorists responsible for the bloodshed know exactly what they’re aiming to do, and they’re quite good at it.”
Reuters’s Julia Edwards: “Merkel did not take the opportunity to criticize U.S. surveillance, and applauded the U.S. intelligence agencies for their coordination with Germany in combating security threats.”
CYBER: The federal government is creating a new agency to deal with cyberattacks.
The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima: “The agency is modeled after the National Counterterrorism Center, which was launched in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks amid criticism that the government failed to share intelligence that could have unraveled the al-Qaeda plot.”
YEMEN: The battle for power in Yemen continues.
The New York Times’ Rod Nordland: “Feuding political parties resumed United Nations-mediated talks with the Houthi militants controlling Yemen’s capital on Monday, but two parties withdrew within hours complaining of threats from the Houthis.”
BOKO HARAM: Boko Haram reaches outside of Nigeria as the Nigerian government vows to defeat the group in weeks.
The Associated Press: “The Nigeria-based Islamic extremist group Boko Haram escalated its attacks in neighboring countries Monday, as a car bomb exploded in one Niger town repeatedly targeted by the militants and residents said other fighters in Cameroon had abducted 20 people aboard a public bus.”
AFP on Nigeria vowing to crush Boko Haram within six weeks: “National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki, who this weekend secured a delay to Nigeria’s presidential elections, said ‘all known Boko Haram camps will be taken out’ by the time of the rescheduled vote.”
CHINA: China’s nuclear industry is thriving in Pakistan.
The Diplomat’s Prashanth Parameswaran: “A Chinese official publicly confirmed Monday that Beijing is involved in at least six nuclear power projects in Pakistan and is likely to export more to the country, media reports said.”
REVOLVING DOOR: The Pentagon announced Keita M. Franklin as the new director of its Suicide Prevention Office Monday. Franklin replaced Jackie Garrick.
Breaking Defense’s Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.: “The Pentagon named a Navy cryptologist to a top cyber policy position today. Rear Adm. Sean Filipowski, who’ll get his second star with the new job, is a protégé of former NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander.”
AND FINALLY, FP’s Elias Groll with the one quote that sums up Obama’s foreign policy.