FP’s Situation Report: U.S. relations with Israel reach a new low; Obama tries to seize control of the Ebola narrative; the Peshmerga enters Kobani; and much more.
By David Francis Relations between Israel and the United States reached a new low Wednesday, with an Obama administration official calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "chickenshit," while a second source said that Netanyahu is a "coward" when it came to Iran. From FP’s Hudson, the White House is trying to distance itself ...
By David Francis
Relations between Israel and the United States reached a new low Wednesday, with an Obama administration official calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "chickenshit," while a second source said that Netanyahu is a "coward" when it came to Iran.
From FP’s Hudson, the White House is trying to distance itself from these comments. "According to congressional sources, White House officials are reaching out to key lawmakers who deal with the U.S-Israel relationship to deny that the bruising quote came from the White House — leaving the explicit suggestion that a State Department official was responsible for the remark. White House officials told lawmakers that press secretary Josh Earnest would denounce the quote at today’s daily briefing." More here.
Jodi Rudoren, writing for The New York Times: "Israeli politicians spent most of Wednesday responding with outrage and concern to an article in The Atlantic quoting a senior American official calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a ‘coward’ — and also using a more colorful but profane synonym that starts with ‘chicken.’ Mr. Netanyahu and his allies denounced such a personal attack as inappropriate, while his critics declared it evidence of the dangerous deterioration of the state’s most treasured alliance that Mr. Netanyahu has caused." More here.
Netanyahu strikes back. From The Guardian: "Speaking to the Israeli parliament — the Knesset — a few hours after the comments were revealed, Netanyahu angrily insisted he was ‘under attack simply for defending Israel,’ adding that he ‘cherished’ Israel’s relationship with the U.S…. ‘When there are pressures on Israel to concede its security, the easiest thing to do is to concede,’ he said. ‘You get a round of applause, ceremonies on grassy knolls, and then come the missiles and the tunnels.’" More here.
The New York Times’ Mark Lander on the Obama administration under attack: "At a time when the Obama administration is lurching from crisis to crisis — a looming Cold War in Europe, a brutal Islamic caliphate in the Middle East and a deadly epidemic in West Africa — it is not surprising that long-term strategy would take a back seat. But it raises inevitable questions about the ability of the president and his hard-pressed national security team to manage and somehow get ahead of the daily onslaught of events." More here.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is still trying to get control of the country’s response to the Ebola virus. The administration has been proactive in recent days, wrangling what is becoming an increasingly fractured response to cases of the disease. However, with DOD’s decision to quarantine all service members who are part of the Pentagon’s response to Ebola in Africa, the White House suffered another political blow ahead of next week’s midterms.
From FP’s Francis: "The Defense Department’s decision is it at odds with Barack Obama’s administration. The White House insists that quarantines for medical workers returning from West Africa are unnecessary. However, President Obama said Tuesday that U.S. troops responding to the West African outbreak were different from medical and aid volunteers working in the region." More here.
More on the split between the Pentagon and the White House, via McClatchy, here.
Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was quarantined in New Jersey despite testing negative for Ebola, is planning a legal fight. From The New York Times: "The dispute is heightening a national debate over how to balance public health and public fears against the rights and freedoms of health care workers, and troops, returning from West Africa." More here.
The number of Ebola cases in Africa has reached 14,000. More from The Wall Street Journal, here.
Now, on to the Islamic State. Breaking Thursday morning, Syrian activists say that the first group of Peshmerga fighters has entered Kobani.
A New York Times magazine piece on what it’s liked to be kidnapped, tortured and released by the group. More from Theo Padnos, here.
More on the Kurds fighting in Kobani, from Reuters: "A convoy of Peshmerga fighters from northern Iraq headed across southeastern Turkey on Wednesday towards the Syrian town of Kobani to try to help fellow Kurds break an Islamic State siege which has defied U.S.-led air strikes." More here.
Writing for FP, Carlyle Murphy on questioning the faith in Saudi Arabia: "The religious attitudes of ordinary people are changing, as is the relationship between the House of Saud and its clerical establishment. This evolving religious scene is marked by less clerical control of social behavior, increasing diversity of religious thought, and more polarization between progressive and extreme right-wing versions of Islam. These changes have already diminished the monarchy’s ability to use religion to enforce social conformity and political obedience. And as the kingdom struggles with questions over succession and the Middle East’s escalating mayhem, these changes will bring added challenges to the House of Saud’s grip on power." More here.
The Bahraini government has been working overtime to crush pro-democracy activists. But what about followers of the Islamic State? More from FP: "Bahrain’s public stance on the war against IS contrasts sharply with its lack of action at home. The kingdom has attempted to present itself as the leader of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) anti-IS efforts. At the start of the air campaign launched against IS by the United States and a select group of allies in September, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, made prominent appearances in the Western media, including the BBC and CNN, to announce Bahrain’s membership in the U.S. military coalition. Khalifa even spoke of the need to rid the region of the ‘deviated cult.’" More here.
From the BBC: "Islamic State ‘kills 30 Sunni tribesmen’ in Iraq." More here.
From der Spiegel: "German Kurds Join Fight against Islamic State." More here.
From The Washington Post on the deterioration of the Turkish-American alliance. WaPo’s Liz Sly: "At stake is a six-decade-old relationship forged during the Cold War and now endowed with a different but equally vital strategic dimension. Turkey is positioned on the front line of the war against the Islamic State, controlling a 780-mile border with Iraq and Syria. Without Turkey’s cooperation, no U.S. policy to bring stability to the region can succeed, analysts and officials on both sides say." More here.
From The New York Times, on the lingering effects of Iraqi chemical weapons on U.S. troops: "The Pentagon will offer medical examinations and long-term health monitoring to service members and veterans who were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq, the Army and Navy said in separate statements this week, as part of a review of how the military handled encounters with thousands of abandoned chemical munitions during the American occupation." More here.
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Who’s when where today: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosts an honor cordon for and meeting with the Minister of Defense of Albania, Her Excellency Mimi Kodheli, at the Pentagon at 10 a.m. EDT.
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica Wright hosts the 34th Annual Department of Defense Disability Awards Ceremony to honor DOD Components for outstanding achievements in the hiring, retention, and advancement of individuals with disabilities at 2 p.m. EDT, Pentagon Auditorium, Arlington, Va.
What’s moving markets today: The American Federal Reserve Bank has stopped buying bonds, a sign of a healthy U.S. economy. From The New York Times: "In a series of sweeping campaigns to revive the American economy, the Federal Reserve has spent much of the last six years purchasing trillions of dollars of bonds. Now it is done." More here.
Is the European financial crisis finally over? From The Wall Street Journal: "Businesses and consumers across the 18 countries that share the euro became slightly more upbeat about their prospects during October, a fresh sign that the currency area’s economy is unlikely to slide back into contraction." More here.
Lagarde pushes U.S. lawmakers to pass IMF reforms. From FP’s Trindle: "Since taking charge of the IMF in July 2011, Lagarde, a former French lawyer and finance minister, has focused on steering the fund through the tumultuous years after the financial crisis. In 2010, the IMF approved a set of reforms that would shift some of the control of the fund’s board away from developed countries and give galloping new economies like China more say in the management of the institution. The package of changes would also double the fund’s reserves to $755 billion for helping national economies that are on the ropes." More here.
From Bloomberg, the Pentagon overpays supplier by as much as 85 percent. "Pentagon contract officers paid prices exceeding their own targets by as much as 85 percent for replacement aircraft parts from a company that got exclusive rights to supply them from original equipment manufacturers, according to the Defense Department’s inspector general." More here.
Via the German Marshall Fund, watch Samantha Power speak at 1, here.
Get used to endless war. David Graham, writing in The Atlantic, quoting defense chief Chuck Hagel: "I think we are living through one of these historic, defining times," Hagel said. "We are seeing a new world order — post-World War II, post-Soviet Union implosion — being built. There are many questions, foremost among the American people: What’s the role of America in this new world that is evolving? Should we have a role? What is appropriate?" More here.
FP’s Colum Lynch on a cover up in Darfur: "The report concluded that U.N. officials in Darfur, fearing reprisals from an often hostile Sudanese government, self-censored their reporting on Sudanese abuses, leading to ‘under-reporting of incidents when Government and pro-Government forces were suspected to be involved,’ according to a five-page summary of the Cooper review distributed Wednesday to members of the 15-nation Security Council. Foreign Policy obtained a copy of that summary." More here.
Is Eastern Ukraine about to elect a fake prime minister? Writing for FP, Lily Hyde: "It’s been six months since Russian-backed rebels in Donbass, an industrial region in Ukraine’s east, declared themselves independent states: the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR). But the intervening period has brought few of the trappings of statehood, and an abundance of chaos. Armed insurgents took over government buildings; in response, Kiev sent in troops. The region has now collapsed into an undeclared war and legal disarray. Amid the turmoil, DNR leaders say the vote to elect a leader and a parliament — still slated to take place despite the ever-present shelling — will provide some sense of order, and give the self-proclaimed republic new legitimacy in the eyes of the world." More here.
Russian warplanes are in European airspace. More here.
From FP’s Groll, Russian rockets are dangerous: "Following the end of NASA’s space shuttle program, a coterie of private space companies have emerged to develop a new method of human space flight. For NASA, relying on private companies allows the agency to carry out missions into space at a lower cost. As part of its increased reliance on private companies for spaceflight, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences are providing NASA with freight delivery to the space station….Tuesday’s failed launch was the maiden flight of Orbital Science’s upgraded Antares 130 rocket. With a larger second-stage motor, the rocket is able to carry greater payloads. Tuesday’s launch was just the fifth launch of the Antares rocket system. The rocket is powered by left-over Soviet engines." More here.
More from Washington Business Journal’s Jill Aitoro on the company that makes the engines. "As Orbital Sciences Corp. CEO David Thompson put it, there is no specific provision in the company’s merger agreement with Alliant Techsystems Inc. for what’s to come of the deal in case of a launch failure. But he stopped short of saying all looked fine." More here.
Revolving Door: More from WBJ‘s Aitoro, on why the acquisition of TASC by Engility — two companies that do a lot of business with DOD — makes sense. More here.
Moscow denies that Americans are being harassed at the embassy. More here.
Writing for FP, Shujie Leng on China’ bureaucratic booze restrictions, and how the country’s president is trying to rein them in. "The Office of Forbidding Midday Alcohol Consumption, a local government initiative in China’s southern Henan province which seeks to reduce alcohol consumption at government-funded lunches, is just one of 130,000 such petty committees that Chinese authorities hope to decommission. According to an Oct. 22 report in state news service Xinhua, such ‘redundant’ local committees are being streamlined out of existence following the June 2013 launch of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ‘mass-line campaign,’ which seeks to fight corruption by bringing cadres in the ruling Communist Party closer to the people they ostensibly serve." More here.
And finally, it feels like the Cold War all over again. From Military Times: "The Russian Navy has successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile, proving its reliability after a long and troublesome development." More here.
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