FP’s Situation Report: Internal U.S. dispute stymies U.N. push for South Sudan arms ban; Chaos reigns in northern Nigeria; Greek elections cast doubt on Europe’s future; and more from around the world.
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat An internal Obama administration squabble stalls U.N. efforts to ban weapons shipments to South Sudan. Foreign allies and even some top U.S. officials have for months sought to slap an arms embargo on South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his security forces, who are suspected of killing thousands ...
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat
An internal Obama administration squabble stalls U.N. efforts to ban weapons shipments to South Sudan. Foreign allies and even some top U.S. officials have for months sought to slap an arms embargo on South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his security forces, who are suspected of killing thousands of civilians in the country’s civil war. But critics accuse National Security Advisor Susan Rice of blocking a weapons ban out of fear it would hobble Kiir’s ability to defeat an equally brutal insurgency. An exclusive report by FP’s Colum Lynch: “The slow pace of American diplomacy on South Sudan has infuriated human rights advocates and congressional critics of South Sudan, who say there is an urgent need to act quickly to stem the flow of arms, particularly at a time when the warring parties have intensified their fighting since the outset of the country’s dry season.”
Northern Nigeria descends toward chaos. As Secretary of State John Kerry arrived for talks with embattled Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Boko Haram laid siege to Maiduguri, the largest city in northeast Borno state. Dozens of Nigerian soldiers were killed in the group’s boldest attack to date. FP’s Siobhan O’Grady details Kerry’s visit and what comes next.
With a Syriza victory in Greece, the future of Europe is in doubt. The radical Syriza party surged to a bigger-than-expected victory in Greece, and its refusal to play by Germany’s strict austerity rules could sink the reeling Eurozone. The Guardian’s Ian Traynor: “The damning popular verdict on Europe’s response to the financial meltdown is a haunting outcome for the EU’s political elite. … For the first time a child of the European crisis, an explicitly anti-austerity party, will take office in the EU.”
PRESS PACK: INDIA, where President Barack Obama was the first U.S. leader to attend Republic Day festivities, marking the 66th anniversary of India’s constitution.
The New York Times’ Peter Baker and Ellen Barry: “Opening a three-day visit amid pomp and pageantry, Mr. Obama moved to clear away old disputes that have stalled progress toward an alignment between the world’s largest and most powerful democracies, a goal that has eluded the last three American presidents.”
The Hindu’s Suhasini Haidar on the nuclear deal: “In effect, Indian officials were able to convince U.S. officials to clear the logjam by transferring the ‘risk assessment’ to commercial operators and suppliers — GE-Hitachi and Westinghouse.”
Bloomberg’s Reed Landberg and Natalie Obiko Pearson on the global warming announcement: “Environmental groups led by the World Resources Institute in Washington said Modi appeared to be moving toward a nationwide goal on renewables, expanding its current program of reaching 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2022.”
Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere on Obama’s risky courtship of India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “Modi hasn’t done anything so far as prime minister that’s troubling to the West Wing, and maybe he really is a changed man—or perhaps just a savvy man who knows he’s got to leave his roots behind to get what he wants.”
Xinhua News’s Tian Dongdong doubts the substance of the U.S.-India relationship: “Three days are surely not enough for Obama and Modi to become true friends, given their hard differences on issues like climate change, agricultural disputes and nuclear energy cooperation.”
Welcome to Monday’s edition of the Situation Report, where we’re hoping the Northeast doesn’t get as much snow as predicted.
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WHO’S WHERE WHEN TODAY
1:00 p.m. CIA Director John Brennan speaks about the agency’s strategy to strengthen intelligence-gathering capabilities and enhance international security at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. 2:00 p.m. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the White House’s first Caribbean Energy Security Summit.
President Obama is in Delhi for meetings with Indian parliamentarians and CEOs.
WHAT’S MOVING MARKETS
The Washington Post’s Griff Witte: “Once in government, the party has said, it will demand a renegotiation of the bailout terms and cancellation of a sizable chunk of Greek’s debt. The creditors, dominated by Germany, are unlikely to yield easily.”
The BBC: “The far-left Syriza party, which won Greece’s general election on Sunday, has formed an anti-austerity governing coalition with the right-wing party Greek Independents.”
Reuters’s Marius Zaharia: “The euro and European shares and bonds shook off worries on Monday over Greek election winner Syriza’s pledge to take on international lenders, a strong sign of confidence in the ECB’s new money-printing programme.”
ISLAMIC STATE: The extremists maintain their edge in their propaganda war, beheading a Japanese hostage and ceding only paltry losses against Western and Mideast firepower. Meanwhile, the White House breaks its own rule on identifying American hostages.
FP’s David Francis: “[M]ilitants are demanding the release of Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, a woman facing the death penalty in Jordan for her role in a 2005 bombing there, in exchange for [Kenji] Goto’s life.”
FP’s Kate Brannen: “Kurdish peshmerga forces in Iraq had retaken 700 square kilometers from the so-called Islamic State. Turns out that amounts to about 1 percent of the territory currently under the Islamic State’s control in Iraq.”
FP’s David Francis: “U.S. officials and the hostage’s family maintain the release of [the American hostage’s] identity draws more attention to the case.”
TERRORISM IN EUROPE: Europe continues to struggle with balancing security and civil liberties as Muslims there face increased threats.
The New York Times’ Andrew Higgins in Belgium: “Coming on the heels of a three-day rampage by a trio of Islamic extremists in Paris, the foiled plot here sent an alarming message that the radicalization of young Muslims extended far beyond the bleak housing projects that ring Paris and other French cities.”
The Daily Beast’s Tracy McNicoll in France: “A plaster grenade hit a mosque in Le Mans and shots were reported fired at several mosques across the country. Arson badly damaged a mosque in Aix-les-Bains.”
UKRAINE CONFLICT: European leaders have doubled down on their threats of new sanctions amid a surge of violence in Ukraine. Meanwhile, there are growing concerns the conflict could make nuclear material less secure.
The EUobserver’s Andrew Rettman reports the seizure of the airport in Donetsk escalated the conflict.
The Guardian’s Julian Borger: “The spirit of cooperation that underpinned the [1991 Cooperative Threat Reduction agreement] has crumbled over recent years.”
SAUDI ARABIA: President Obama is cutting short a trip to India to mourn Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who died last week at 90. But don’t expect significant changes to U.S.-Saudi relations, reports FP’s John Hudson.
The Washington Post’s Kevin Sullivan: “Saudi officials have also embarked on a multiyear project to … fortify all the thousands of miles of land borders, with Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and especially Yemen.”
YEMEN UNREST: There were worries that the fall of the Yemen’s government to Houthi rebels last week would doom the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Now it appears as if the tribal group could be a moderating force and an ally against AQAP.
The New York Times’ Rod Nordland and Eric Schmitt: Houthis are “bitter opponents of Al Qaeda, who consider all Shiite Muslims to be apostates — as do many Saudis.”
The Associated Press’s Julie Pace and Anne Flaherty: “President Obama defended his counterterrorism strategy in tumultuous Yemen Sunday, as influential lawmakers from both parties suggested the U.S. may need to turn to special operations forces to root out terrorists from the Middle Eastern nation.“
REVOLVING DOOR: The Daily Beast’s Shane Harris reports the CIA is losing its top spy.
AND FINALLY, the Washington Post’s Ian Shapira on former spies finding new careers in Hollywood.