The Cable

FP’s Situation Report: Ukraine wants more U.S. military training; Kabul and Washington make progress; Israel continues its push against an Iran nuclear deal; and much more from around the world.

By David Francis with Sabine Muscat Ukraine’s military needs more than U.S. weapons. It also needs U.S. training. The United States is considering sending guns to Ukraine. But Kiev wants more of a new U.S. program meant to train Ukraine’s military to defeat a Russian-backed insurgency. FP’s Reid Standish and John Hudson: “For Ukrainian Ambassador ...

By David Francis with Sabine Muscat

Ukraine’s military needs more than U.S. weapons. It also needs U.S. training. The United States is considering sending guns to Ukraine. But Kiev wants more of a new U.S. program meant to train Ukraine’s military to defeat a Russian-backed insurgency. FP’s Reid Standish and John Hudson: “For Ukrainian Ambassador Olexander Motsyk, the new initiative is vital not just because Kiev faces a sustained threat from Moscow-backed separatists, but because of the desperately moribund state of the Ukrainian military.”

More on Russia and Ukraine below.

Ties between Washington and Kabul are progressing. The relationship between officials in Washington and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was poisoned by the time he left office. New President Ashraf Ghani is scheduled to visit D.C. this week, a sign the partnership is improving, FP’s Kate Brannen reports.

More on Afghanistan below.

Israel continues its global tour lobbying against an Iran nuclear deal. Israeli officials are determined to do all they can to sink an accord between Tehran and the West. Now, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz is taking Jerusalem’s case to Paris. AFP: “France has expressed skepticism over the speed of a potential deal in which Iran would place its nuclear program under severe restrictions in exchange for a stage-by-stage lifting of international sanctions.”

PRESS PACK: Yemen inches toward all-out civil war.

The Washington Post’s Ali al-Mujahed and Loveday Morris: “Shiite rebel forces captured new territory in Yemen on Sunday after a call to arms from their leaders, pressing south toward the headquarters of the country’s embattled president and pitching the country further toward sectarian war.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Hakim Almasmari, Asa Fitch, and Dion Nissenbaum: “American officials now see Yemen teetering on the brink of a civil war involving the besieged president, a former president and a patchwork of militant groups.”

Reuters: “The Yemeni president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, accused the Houthi militia on Saturday of staging a coup against him and appealed to the U.N. for ‘urgent intervention,’ even as the U.S. evacuated its remaining forces.

The New York Times’ Eric Schmitt: “The evacuation of 125 United States Special Operations advisers from Yemen in the past two days is the latest blow to the Obama administration’s counterterrorism campaign.”

CNN’s Greg Botelho and Hakim Almasmari: “The U.S. military has pulled its remaining personnel out of Yemen due to the deteriorating security situation.”

Welcome to Monday’s edition of the Situation Report, where the 2016 presidential race essentially begins today.

Contact me at david.francis@foreignpolicy.com and follow me @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

8:00 a.m. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speak to U.S. veterans at the Pentagon. 10:00 a.m. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the Center for American Progress. 12:00 p.m. The Hudson Institute hosts an event on Boko Haram. 2:00 p.m. The Brookings Institution hosts an event on defense acquisitions reform. 4:00 p.m. Secretary of State John Kerry and Ghani hold a joint press conference.

WHAT’S MOVING MARKETS

Bloomberg’s Nikos Chrysoloras and Anthony Czuczka: “Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the second time in five days on Monday, at the start of a week that may prove decisive for Greece’s future in the euro area.”

The New York Times’ Jim Yardley: “Greece’s finances have deteriorated as post-election anxiety over uncertainty about the bailout spurred a spike in bank withdrawals.”

Reuters’s Rania El Gamal, Reem Shamseddine, and Andrew Torchia: “OPEC will not take sole responsibility for propping up the oil price, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said on Sunday, signaling the world’s top petroleum exporter is determined to ride out a market slump that has roughly halved prices since last June.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Tommy Stubbington: “A wave of cash is leaving the eurozone, where returns on safe assets are infinitesimal, if they are positive at all, and headed to the U.S. and other refuges such as Denmark and Switzerland.”

Reuters’s Matthew Miller and Brenda Goh: “China received critical support from the International Monetary Forum and Asian Development Bank on Sunday for its goal of establishing a new Chinese-led multilateral lender.”

RUSSIA: Russian arms are still in Ukraine as Moscow vows to point weapons at Denmark if it acquires a new missile defense system.

Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin: “Russia is still pouring heavy weapons into Ukraine, signaling that President Vladimir Putin has no intention of abiding by last month’s ceasefire agreement, NATO’s top military commander warned on Sunday.”

Reuters: “Moscow opposes the system, arguing that it could reduce the effectiveness of its own nuclear arsenal, leading to a new Cold War-style arms race.”

AFGHANISTAN: Are peace talks with the Taliban happening? A call for a continued U.S. troop presence is likely as Ghani visits Washington.

The Wall Street Journal’s Margherita Stancati: “Speaking to a group of reporters Saturday ahead of a visit to the U.S., Mr. Ghani said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ that his government could enable face-to-face talks with the Taliban leadership to begin, but warned this would take time.”

The New York Times’ Michael D. Shear and Matthew Rosenberg: “Mr. Ghani is certain to push hard to keep the current 10,000 American troops and thousands of private contractors in his country through, or perhaps beyond, 2016 when Mr. Obama insists the United States’ longest war will come to an end.”

ISLAMIC STATE: The group once again shows off its technical prowess as U.S. advisers in Iraq step up training. In Europe, it’s al Qaeda vs. the Islamic State.

NBC News’s Jim Miklaszewski and Elisha Fieldstadt: “A group claiming to be affiliated with the terror group ISIS has posted online what it says are the names and personal information of about 100 members of the U.S. military.”

The Associated Press’s Vivian Salama and Qassim Abdul-Zahra: “Hundreds of American advisers are working at the Camp Taji military base just north of Baghdad to train Iraqi forces on issues like weaponry and better coordination and integration of ground action with coalition airstrikes.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Valentina Pop: “Al Qaeda may try to mount a terrorist attack in Europe to prove it hasn’t lost the ‘leadership of global jihad’ to Islamic State.”

IRAN: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) creates a win-win scenario with a planned visit to Israel. Meanwhile, the CIA claims it’s got Tehran covered as Bibi’s allies up the ante with Obama.

FP’s David Francis: “If the talks fail, he and Netanyahu will have a forum to tell Israelis and Americans it was a bad idea from the start and to blast Obama for pursuing it. If a deal is reached, the speaker can make the case that it won’t last beyond the end of the president’s second term.”

CNN’s Eric Bradner: CIA chief John Brennan “said he is ‘confident that our intelligence capabilities are sufficiently robust and that we have a good understanding of what the Iranian nuclear program entails.’”

The New York Times’ Isabel Kershner: “In what appeared to be an effort to counter President Obama’s criticism of Mr. Netanyahu’s contentious remarks on a Palestinian state and an Election Day warning about too many Arab voters, Netanyahu loyalists said that the true cause of the tensions with Washington was Israel’s strong opposition to a nuclear accord with Iran.”

AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST: Nigerian troops are notably absent in northern Nigeria. Tunisian authorities collar people allegedly involved in last week’s museum attack. Meanwhile, the United States plans to sit out a U.N. debate on Israel.

The New York Times’ Adam Nossiter: “The soldiers from Chad and Niger had succeeded here, but there was not a single Nigerian soldier to be found. The force members were bewildered to find themselves as foreign liberators without any help from the country benefiting from the liberation.”

Deutsche Welle on arrests in Tunis: “Interior Minister Mohamad Ali Aroui was more forthcoming with details, saying ‘more than 10 people have been arrested for direct or indirect involvement in the attack.’”

Reuters: “The United States will not take the floor at the main U.N. human rights forum on Monday during the annual debate on violations committed in the Palestinian territories.”

ASIA: Lee Kuan Yew, the 91-year-old founder of modern Singapore, has died and leaves a mixed legacy. The dispute over a U.S. base in Japan heats up.

Writing for Foreign Policy, William J. Dobson: “Lee was the most successful dictator of the 20th century.”

Reuters: “A clash between Japan’s central government and Okinawa island, host to the bulk of U.S. troops in Japan, deepened on Monday when the southern island’s governor ordered a halt to underwater work at the site of a planned relocation of a U.S. Marine base.”

EBOLA: The epidemic is not over: Sierra Leone is under lockdown again, and a new case dampens recent optimism in Liberia that the disease is under control.

CNN’s Ralph Ellis and Radina Gigova: “President Ernest Bai Koroma on Saturday launched a campaign called ‘Zero Ebola,’ in which almost all Sierra Leoneans are supposed to stay indoors March 27-29 and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on three consecutive Saturdays — April 4, 11 and 18.”

The New York Times’ Sheri Fink and Rick Gladstone: “A patient in Liberia has tested positive for the Ebola virus, health officials said Friday, more than two weeks after the last known case in the country had been discharged from the hospital.”

NSA: Surveillance reform hangs in the balance.

The National Journal’s Dustin Volz: “Congress likely needs to pass cybersecurity legislation before it can pave the way to addressing the National Security Agency bulk collection of American phone records, despite the looming June expiration of a key surveillance authority.”

SECRET SERVICE: Agency chief will go alone in front of Congress.

CNN’s Eric Bradner: “House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and top Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland complained to Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy that they are ‘very disappointed’ he plans to be the agency’s sole representative at Tuesday’s hearing.”

AND FINALLY, the dollar is strong, so consider taking a trip to Norway, Sweden, or Australia, three of the world’s happiest countries, according to CNN.   

 

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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