Briefing Skipper: Holbrooke under fire, Gaza, Iran, FIFA, fusion
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Friday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley: Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s V-22 Osprey came under fire when trying to land in Marja, Afghanistan Monday. There was a 10 minute gun battle and even explosions after ...
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Friday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley:
- Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s V-22 Osprey came under fire when trying to land in Marja, Afghanistan Monday. There was a 10 minute gun battle and even explosions after his plane took off. Holbrooke reportedly shrugged off the attack, saying, "I’ve been shot at in other countries, a lot of other countries." Crowley downplayed the incident. "While they were airborne, they were aware of small-arms fire below in the general vicinity of Marja, but it did not affect the airplane itself," he said.
- Crowley read aloud from the Quartet statement on the Israeli decision to ease restrictions on the flow of goods to Gaza. ""The Quartet reaffirms that the current situation in Gaza, including the humanitarian and human- rights situation of the civilian population, is unsustainable, unacceptable, and not in the interests of any of those concerned," the statement began. It praised the decision, pledged to work for implementation, and gave a nod to Israel’s security concerns.
- The U.S. is taking some credit for the easing of the blockade, something they’ve been working with the Israelis on for months, well before the flotilla crisis and the threat of a UN investigation. "Now comes the hard part of actually implementing, you know, this policy and — and in the process, you know, working effectively with the Palestinian Authority to increase the flow of people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank," Crowley said. He declined to say whether after the changes were made the situation would then be "sustainable."
- Meanwhile, the State Department is "concerned" about the mayor of Jerusalem’s decision to demolish a bunch of Arab homes in East Jerusalem. "We understand that this is an action undertaken by the municipality of Jerusalem, not the government of Israel," Crowley said, "But this is expressly the kind of step that we think undermines trust that is fundamental to making progress in the proximity talks and ultimately in direct negotiations."
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak either Wednesday or Thursday, part of the preparation for the visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a couple of weeks. They are sure to discuss how to handle the next flotilla, this one coming from Lebanon.
- Clinton spoke Monday with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada as part of the U.S.-Japan reset after the fall of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. They covered all the major issues and the call lasted exactly 17 minutes.
- Crowley criticized Iran’s expulsion of two inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. "This will not engender or encourage the international community to believe that Iran’s program is peaceful in nature," he said.
- The State Department will no lodge a formal complaint over the controversial disallowed goal that cost the U.S. national football team a win against Slovenia. "There are a number of things I don’t think that we do here at the State Department," Crowley said, "Currency re-evaluation is one of them, and getting in the middle of controversies over sporting events, including the World Cup, is another."
- Marzuki Darusman is the new special U.N. rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, replacing Vitit Muntarbhorn, who left after becoming the first rapporteur and serving out his six year term. "The United States hopes the North Korean government will grant Mr. Darusman access to North Korea to observe conditions inside the country and hold direct discussions on human rights issues," Crowley said.
- As for North Korea’s contention that they have made progress toward a nuclear fusion reactor, Crowley said, "I think we are very skeptical of that claim."
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. Twitter: @joshrogin
More from Foreign Policy
Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?
The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.
Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World
It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.
It’s a New Great Game. Again.
Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.
Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing
The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.