Daily brief: Obama administration releases counterterrorism strategy

Wonk Watch: "The Insurgency in Afghanistan’s Heartland" (International Crisis Group). New focus? President Barack Obama’s key counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan publicly revealed the administration’s new counterterrorism strategy Wednesday, the first publicly released strategy since 2006 (NYT, Post, WSJ, Reuters, AFP, Bloomberg). Brennan said the focus of U.S. policy would be on al-Qaeda, its affiliates, ...

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Wonk Watch: "The Insurgency in Afghanistan's Heartland" (International Crisis Group).

New focus?

President Barack Obama's key counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan publicly revealed the administration's new counterterrorism strategy Wednesday, the first publicly released strategy since 2006 (NYT, Post, WSJ, Reuters, AFP, Bloomberg). Brennan said the focus of U.S. policy would be on al-Qaeda, its affiliates, and its "adherents," and he said the organization's leadership had been "decimated" since Obama came into office, promising continued pressure on the group through the use of Special Operations Forces and "unique assets," or drone strikes (NYT, LAT). He also called Pakistan "essential" in continued counterterrorism operations (Post).

Wonk Watch: "The Insurgency in Afghanistan’s Heartland" (International Crisis Group).

New focus?

President Barack Obama’s key counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan publicly revealed the administration’s new counterterrorism strategy Wednesday, the first publicly released strategy since 2006 (NYT, Post, WSJ, Reuters, AFP, Bloomberg). Brennan said the focus of U.S. policy would be on al-Qaeda, its affiliates, and its "adherents," and he said the organization’s leadership had been "decimated" since Obama came into office, promising continued pressure on the group through the use of Special Operations Forces and "unique assets," or drone strikes (NYT, LAT). He also called Pakistan "essential" in continued counterterrorism operations (Post).

The announcement came on the same day that Pakistan’s defense minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar told Pakistani media that the government had ordered the United States to leave the Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan, from where the United States is believed to deploy armed drones into Pakistan’s tribal areas (AFP, Tel, Guardian, DT, FT, ET). And Pakistan’s military angrily denied testimony from senior U.S. military officials that Pakistan allows some militant groups to operate from its territory, as the official investigation into the assault on the Mehran naval base announced that the attackers had received inside help (ET, Dawn, ET, Dawn, DT).

Pakistani forces have reportedly killed 40 militants in fighting in the Mohmand tribal agency (ET, Dawn). The chief minister in Baluchistan, Nawab Aslam Raisani, has reportedly asked that a report into the shooting of five unarmed foreigners at a checkpoint near Quetta be made public (Dawn). And the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has released a report saying that the security forces control Baluchistan, while the civilian government "seems non-existent" in the province (ET).

Finally, Western countries present at the meeting Wednesday of the so-called "nuclear suppliers group" reportedly questioned China extensively about its support for expanding two nuclear reactors in Pakistan (Reuters). And the Pakistani government announced that deregulation of energy prices could increase the cost of gas by between 10 and 100 percent (ET, DT).

Aftermath

Kabul continued to reel from Tuesday night’s attack on the heavily fortified Intercontinental Hotel, as witnesses reported that some Afghan police officers fled the scene rather than trying to fight off the militants who stormed the building (Post, AP, LAT, WSJ, BBC, CNN, Guardian, Reuters). The assault has raised concerns about the transfer of security of some parts of Afghanistan, including Kabul, to Afghan forces. A provincial official told the Times, "The security forces cannot even protect a few people inside the hotel…How can they protect the whole country?" (NYT, Tel). Bonus read: Candace Rondeaux, "The growing danger in Kabul" (FP).

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) announced today that a coalition airstrike in the province of Paktia had killed a senior Haqqani Network commander, Ismail Jan, whom they said provided support to the Kabul attack (Tel, AFP, CBS, AP). ISAF also announced that they had seized nearly 100 weapons caches in the past two weeks, while CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh records a firefight at a U.S. outpost in the province of Kunar (ET, CNN). A Brown University estimate released Wednesday concluded that the U.S. military operations since 9/11 have cost between $3.2 and $4 trillion (Post, Independent, NPR, AJE, Reuters).

Afghanistan’s government has arrested the former chairman of the Kabul Bank as well as its Chief Executive Officer, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated its concerns about Afghan investigations into issues at the troubled institution, as well as a second bank (NYT, WSJ, Globe and Mail, Post). And Afghanistan’s ambassador the United States, Eklil Hakimi, questioned the motives of former Afghan Central Bank governor Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, who fled to the United States before resigning his post this week (Reuters).

Closing out the news today, two French journalists held by the Taliban since December 2009, Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier, were released Wednesday and have now returned safely to France (Guardian, CNN, AP, BBC, AFP, Post, NYT).

Cartoon commemoration

A retired U.S. Marine Corps officer and his wife have written a comic book to be released in September depicting the U.S. Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden (Post). The book’s goal, according to the authors, is to, "celebrate what happened, especially among youngsters."

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