- By David KennerDavid Kenner is the Middle East editor at Foreign Policy. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and has been with FP since 2009 (a long time, he knows). He worked for FP previously in Cairo, where he covered the early days of the Arab Spring, and before that in Washington. He has attended Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut and has reported from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington yesterday for what he termed a “fateful, even historic mission” to dissuade the United States from signing a nuclear agreement with Iran. The Israeli premier is set to address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday regarding the talks with Iran, as negotiators are trying to reach a framework agreement by March 24.
While Netanyahu’s address has caused a rift with President Barack Obama’s administration, both sides took steps over the weekend to defuse public tensions. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Netanyahu “is welcome to speak in the United States,” while the prime minister affirmed his respect for the president on Saturday. Nevertheless, the political repercussions of the confrontation between Netanyahu and the White House continue to reverberate in Washington: On Sunday, the pro-Israel group AIPAC broke with the Obama administration, laying out a strategy to disrupt any nuclear deal by working through Congress.
Iraq launches offensive to recapture Tikrit
The Iraqi military and Shiite militias have begun an operation to retake Tikrit from the Islamic State, massing more than 30,000 fighters on the city’s outskirts. Yesterday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the nearby town of Samarra, where pro-government forces were gathering, saying that it was the “last chance” for the jihadists to lay down their weapons.
Tikrit, a predominantly Sunni city that was Saddam Hussein’s hometown, is seen as a stepping stone in government efforts to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Iraqi officials have said that its forces are advancing in the area and that they are roughly 3 miles from the heart of the city, but there has been no independent confirmation on the course of the battle.
- Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Moscow to mourn the killing of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
- Iran appointed a lawyer for imprisoned journalist Jason Rezaian, but prevented him from hiring the attorney of his choosing.
- North Korea fired two missiles into the sea as the United States and South Korea began joint military exercises.
- The Afghan army launched its largest-ever offensive without U.S. or NATO combat troops against the Taliban.
Pool/Israeli Prime Ministry Press Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images