The Cable

FP’s Situation Report: Iraqi troops prepare to confront the Islamic State in urban areas; Iran and U.S. say now or never on nuclear deal; China inflates internal terror threats; and much more from around the world.

By David Francis with Sabine Muscat Iraqi troops are taking the Islamic State fight to Sunni strongholds. Iraq’s military has found success in small villages and mostly sparsely populated places across the nation’s north. American military advisers now prepare to take on the tall task of trying to win back urban areas. The Washington Post’s ...

By David Francis with Sabine Muscat

Iraqi troops are taking the Islamic State fight to Sunni strongholds. Iraq’s military has found success in small villages and mostly sparsely populated places across the nation’s north. American military advisers now prepare to take on the tall task of trying to win back urban areas. The Washington Post’s Missy Ryan and Mustafa Salim: “Attempting to take back the cities of Mosul, the country’s second-largest, as well as Tikrit and Fallujah will test not only the fighting power of Iraqi forces and the country’s fragile sectarian compact but also President Obama’s indirect strategy for containing the Islamic State.”

More on the Islamic State below.

Iran and U.S.: It’s now or never on a nuke deal. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said there wouldn’t be another deadline extension. That means a deal needs to be done by the end of June, the New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon and Steven Erlanger report. Secretary of State John Kerry also ruled out continuing talks, the Washington Post’s Carol Morello reports.

More on Iran below.

China is overstating its internal terror threat. Beijing says radicalized members of its Uighur minority are terrorists connected to al Qaeda and the Islamic State. But evidence for these claims is flimsy. FP’s Justine Drennan on repressive policies in Xinjiang: “The province’s one-time-majority Uighur population of 10 million, which is ethnically Turkic, has been marginalized for decades by ethnic Han Chinese migrants that Beijing has encouraged to move there in the hope that they’d help integrate the restive province into China.”

PRESS PACK: Ukraine Conflict

The Wall Street Journal’s Anton Troianovski, Julian E. Barnes, and Carol E. Lee: “Chancellor Angela Merkel has given Russian President Vladimir Putin until Wednesday to agree to a road map to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine.”

The New York Times’ Rick Lyman: “Ukrainian military officials said over the weekend, they had detected a sizable buildup of pro-Russian rebel forces on the outskirts of Debaltseve.”

Deutsche Welle’s Michael Knigge expresses outrage over U.S. Senator John McCain accusing Merkel of being indifferent to the slaughter in Ukraine: “McCain’s accusation goes far beyond acceptable criticism. The senator just discredited himself on the world stage, even if he could gather points domestically.”

Bloomberg’s Sangwon Yoon and John Walcott: “Germany’s rejection of supplying weapons to Ukrainian forces fighting pro-Russian rebels may heighten the domestic pressure on a reluctant U.S. President Barack Obama to deliver the arms.”

USA Today’s Erin Kelly: Secretary of State Kerry “said he could not provide any details of possible military equipment that the United States might send to help Ukraine fight the rebels.”

Welcome to Monday’s edition of the Situation Report, where we’re sad to note the passing of Dean Smith, a “coach ahead of his time.”

Connect with me at and @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.

CORRECTION: On Friday we incorrectly identified the Somali ambassador to the U.N. as the official who issued warnings about the end of remittances. It was the U.N.’s top official in Somalia who gave the warning. Apologies.


11:40 a.m. President Obama holds a joint news conference with German Chancellor Merkel. 2:00 p.m. FP’s David Rothkopf will be on Reddit to host an “Ask Me Anything” thread. 11:35 p.m. FP’s Special Projects Editor Rebecca Frankel will be on Conan to talk about War Dogs, her recently published book.


The New York Times‘ Niki Kitsantonis: “As pressure grows on Greece to reach a deal with its international creditors and avert fears that it will default on its huge debt, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Sunday that his government would not seek an extension of a stringent bailout program and would carry out its campaign pledges to roll back austerity, but gradually.”

The Financial Times‘ Shawn Donnan: “US Treasury secretary Jack Lew is expected to press fellow finance ministers to honour a pledge to stimulate growth when they meet in Istanbul on Monday.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Eric Yep and Summer Said on new oil refineries in the Middle East shaking up world fuel markets: “Once up and running, the refineries should have considerable competitive advantages, thanks to new technology, cheap crude-oil feedstock and proximity to markets in Europe and Africa, where they could displace traditional suppliers from Asia and the U.S.”

KAYLA MUELLER: The parents of the 26-year-old aid worker who the Islamic State claims is dead, nixed military options to get their daughter back as they hold on to hope she is still alive.

FP’s Seán D. Naylor: “As a result, the official said gatekeepers within the U.S. government rejected some military plans that may have helped locate Kayla Mueller before they were proposed to President Barack Obama.”

CNN’s Ben Brumfield and Jomana Karadsheh: “‘We have sent you a private message and ask that you respond to us privately,’ Carl and Marsha Mueller said in a statement.

ISLAMIC STATE: Jordan continues to pound targets in Syria as Japan cracks down.

Reuters’s Suleiman al-Khalidi: “Jordan’s air force chief said on Sunday his country’s jet fighters had conducted 56 bombing raids in three days against Islamic State militants in northeast Syria, targeting key bases and arms depots.”

The Asahi Shimbun: “In the wake of the grisly killing of two Japanese hostages by the Islamic State in Syria, the Foreign Ministry announced on Feb. 7 that it had seized the passport of a freelance photographer who planned to travel there later this month.”

IRAN: Iran outlines a path to compromise.

The Wall Street Journal’s Laurence Norman: “Iran’s lead negotiator, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, got a boost Sunday from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who signaled he could back a compromise accord but would oppose a deal he saw as hurting Iran’s interests.”

AFGHANISTAN: There’s a scandal brewing over Afghan police ties to the Taliban.

The New York Times’ Joseph Goldstein: “The number of officers involved makes it one of the most significant corruption investigations within the national police force in years. Although the police force in Afghanistan has a reputation for corruption, charges of any kind are rare.”

AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST: Vice President Biden is skipping Netanyahu’s speech in Washington. It’s still not clear who’s in charge in Yemen. Egypt has its second soccer-related riot in three years.

The Wall Street Journal’s Joshua Mitnick: Biden’s decision was “seized on by opponents in Israel’s parliamentary election campaign as evidence that the planned appearance had angered the Obama administration and damaged ties with Israel’s most important ally.”

Al Jazeera: “The United Nations envoy to Yemen says a national dialogue to resolve the country’s crisis will resume on Monday, three days after Houthi fighters took power in a move widely condemned as a ‘coup.’”

The Associated Press: “A riot broke out Sunday night outside of a major soccer game in Egypt, with a stampede and fighting between police and fans killing at least 25 people.”

NIGERIA: The international community slams Nigeria’s plans to delay its presidential election.

The Wall Street Journal’s Drew Hinshaw: “A decision the night before by Nigeria’s electoral commission to postpone a Feb. 14 presidential election—because the military declined to provide security—was a ‘setback for democracy.’”

NORTH KOREA: North Korea tests five short-range missiles.

The New York Times’ Choe Sang-Hun: “The missile launchings came a day after North Korea said that its leader, Kim Jong-un, had witnessed the test-firing of a new anti-ship missile.”

HACKING SCANDALS: NSA computers are under siege.

The Associated Press’s Brady McCombs: “Utah state officials have seen what they describe as a sharp uptick in attempts to hack into state computers in the last two years, and they think it related to the NSA data center south of Salt Lake City.”

AND FINALLY, Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov killing it in Munich.


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