FP’s Situation Report: Did Bibi outline a path to a deal?; Petraeus completes his fall from grace; Pentagon owns up to Mosul missteps; and much more from around the world.
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat
Did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu open the door to an Iran deal? Democrats are still smarting while Republicans happily endorse Bibi’s divisive speech to Congress. But the Israeli PM might have plotted a path toward an acceptable deal by dropping his previous demands that Iran not enrich uranium on its soil. FP’s Yochi Dreazen: “He criticized the emerging deal for allowing Iran to retain its nuclear-related infrastructure, but never used the words ‘zero enrichment’ or explicitly said that this would have to be part of any deal he could accept.”
More on Netanyahu’s speech below.
A golden boy completes his fall from grace. Former CIA Director David Petraeus was a favorite of two presidents who became famous when, as an Army general, he turned the tide of the Iraq war. On Tuesday he pleaded guilty to passing classified information to his lover Paula Broadwell. FP’s Kate Brannen: “New legal documents also show that while director of the CIA, Petraeus lied by telling two FBI special agents during an interview in his office at Langley that he had never provided Broadwell with classified information even though a year earlier he had done just that.”
More on Petraeus below.
The Pentagon owns up to its Mosul mistake. Last month, DoD released key details of its plan to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, angering Iraqi officials and creating bad blood between Baghdad and Washington. The highest-ranking American military officials are now trying to walk back the leaked plans, FP’s Brannen reports.
More on the Islamic State below.
PRESS PACK: Reaction to Netanyahu’s speech.
FP’s John Hudson: “In his highly anticipated — and highly controversial — speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dazzled Republican members of Congress but angered many Democrats as he railed against a potential White House deal aimed at blocking Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
The New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear: “President Obama’s task of selling a potential nuclear agreement with Iran to a skeptical Congress became far harder on Tuesday after an impassioned speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to lawmakers already nervous about the deal.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Laurence Norman and Felicia Schwartz: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pressed on toward a nuclear deal on Tuesday even as the Israeli premier was in Washington to argue against it.”
CNN’s Greg Botelho and Kate Bolduan: “While the speech wasn’t carried live, Iranians quickly pounced with heated condemnations of Netanyahu and characterized him as a liar. TV banners labeled the speech an example of ‘Iranaphobia,’ with commentators saying that it humiliated U.S. President Barack Obama and deepened the wedge between Israel and its longtime allies.”
The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Cristina Marcos: “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hammered Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday, saying the Israeli prime minister’s speech to Congress was an ‘insult’ to the country.”
The Washington Post’s William Booth and Ruth Eglash on the reaction from Israel: “Supporters called the speech one of the best of the prime minister’s political career. Others said that it was rousing and demonstrated the support that Israel and Netanyahu enjoy in Congress, but that the address offered no new way to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”
Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, although full of bombast, was carefully constructed to avoid revealing new information about the nuclear negotiations with Iran or specifying what a better deal would look like.”
Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of the Situation Report, where we have some guesses about Hillary Clinton’s non-State Department e-mail address: CantBeBeat2016@gmail.com or WhatJustHappened2008@yahoo.com.
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WHO’S WHERE WHEN TODAY
10:00 a.m. General John Campbell testifies at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on long-term U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. 10:00 a.m. Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s assistant secretary for European/Eurasian Affairs, testifies on Ukraine at a House Foreign Affairs Committee. 10:00 a.m. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify at a House Appropriations Committee budget hearing.
WHAT’S MOVING MARKETS
FP’s Keith Johnson: “[U]nlike other oil producers that are forced to tighten their belts, countries in Central Asia are suffering an extra dollop of pain: the knock-on effects of Russia’s own economic woes.”
Reuters’s Alister Doyle: “The European Union will need radical new policies to reach goals for safeguarding the environment by 2050 after limited progress in curbing pollution and climate change.”
The Associated Press: “Ukraine’s central bank has sharply hiked its benchmark rate to 30 percent, from 19.5 percent, as financial authorities seek to reverse the rapid devaluation of the national currency.”
Reuters’s Koh Gui Qing: “Senior leaders at [China’s] National People’s Congress, which opens on Thursday, will send an unambiguous signal about the extent of the slowdown when they cut this year’s GDP growth target to around 7 percent, which would be the lowest growth in a quarter of a century.”
PETRAEUS: Little black books are evidence as Petraeus avoids more embarrassment.
The Daily Beast’s Justin Miller and Nancy A. Youssef: “While he was commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Petraeus ‘maintained bound, five-by-eight inch notebooks that contained his daily schedule and classified and unclassified notes he took during official meetings, conferences and briefings.’”
The Washington Post’s Adam Goldman and Sari Horwitz: “The deal, if approved by a judge, will spare Petraeus a prison sentence and allow him to avoid a trial that probably would have revealed details of his relationship with his former mistress and biographer.”
ISLAMIC STATE: Tikrit opens U.S./Iraqi fault lines as Iraqi forces dig in for a long fight.
The New York Times’ Anne Barnard: “Tensions between Iraq and the United States over how to battle the Islamic State broke into the open on Tuesday, as Iraqi officials declared that they would fight on their own timetable with or without American help.”
The Washington Post’s Erin Cunningham: “[T]he attacks against government forces Tuesday signaled that the battle could morph into an urban war of attrition, with the potential for significant casualties.”
RUSSIA: Hopes dim for the opposition in Russia as Putin breaks his silence.
The New York Times’ Neil MacFarquhar and Andrew E. Kramer: “The funeral on Tuesday for Boris Y. Nemtsov, the assassinated Kremlin critic, drew a gloomy band of politicians and supporters from the faltering liberal opposition, with mourners grieving that they were burying not just a friend, but also their dream for a different Russia.”
The Wall Street Journal’s James Marson: “Russian President Vladimir Putin told senior police officials Wednesday that they should ‘finally rid Russia of shame and tragedy’ such as the killing of opposition activist Boris Nemtsov.”
UKRAINE: Another American official wants Obama to consider weapons for Ukraine as the U.S. plans to send more troops to Eastern Europe.
AFP: “It was the first time General Martin Dempsey had spoken out in support of arming Ukraine’s army against the separatists and follows similar comments by the Pentagon’s new chief, Ashton Carter, and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper.”
Defense News’s Joe Gould: “The U.S. military’s plans to send troops into Romania and Bulgaria as a deterrence to Russian aggression could expand to include Hungary, the Czech Republic and Russia’s southern neighbor, Georgia.”
SOUTH ASIA: The Afghan military is far weaker than originally thought.
FP’s David Francis: “The data, which was released Tuesday only after objections from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, paints a damning picture of the strength of Afghanistan’s armed forces.”
Reuters’s Jessica Donati and Mirwais Harooni: “The United States and other aid donors should press Afghanistan to prosecute government and security force officials guilty of serious human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.”
The Associated Press’s Munir Ahmed: “Envoys from India and Pakistan agreed Tuesday to find common ground but there was no decision on whether the rare meeting between the wary rivals would result in future negotiations.”
STATE DEPARTMENT: Republicans pounce on Clinton’s non-State e-mail address as Benghazi lives on.
Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti: “In Clinton’s case, GOP operatives see a chance to use the emails as a way of further casting the former senator as secretive, untrustworthy and inauthentic, all longstanding Republican criticisms of both Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.”
The New York Times’ Michael S. Schmidt and Amy Chozick: “In 2012, congressional investigators asked the State Department for a wide range of documents related to the attack on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. The department eventually responded, furnishing House committees with thousands of documents. But it turns out that that was not everything.”
AFRICA: Is Boko Haram aligning itself with the Islamic State? Meanwhile, the U.N. gets involved in the South Sudan peace process.
Reuters’s Isaac Abrak and Julia Payne: “The footage will raise concerns that Boko Haram, which evolved out of a clerical movement focused on northeast Nigeria, is expanding its scope and seeking inspiration from international militant networks including al Qaeda and Islamic State.”
The New York Times’ Somini Sengupta and Isma’il Kushkush: “The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution to impose sanctions on those who disrupt efforts to restore peace in South Sudan, but it stopped short of barring the warring factions from buying more arms.”
BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING: The trial of alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is about to begin.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jon Kamp: “Attorneys are expected to make opening statements Wednesday morning, a day after federal Judge George O’Toole empaneled a jury.”
The Daily Beast’s Susan Zalkind: “[W]hile it’s true that Tsarnaev is facing ‘seemingly overwhelming evidence,’ there is still a lot about the bombing that the public—and more importantly, the government—still doesn’t know.”
HOMELAND SECURITY FUNDING: Bibi gives Boehner cover for a DHS compromise.
The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan: “House Speaker John A. Boehner surrendered Tuesday to Democratic demands to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security, ending a tense three-month showdown over immigration. But the move could further strain relations between the speaker and hard-line conservatives, whose growing dissent threatens the future of the unified Republican majority.”
CHINA: Not even generals are taboo in China’s anti-corruption campaign.
Asia Times Online’s Yang Fan and Ho Shan: “The ruling Chinese Communist Party is investigating 14 generals for corruption as a nationwide anti-graft campaign widens to encompass the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), official media reported on Monday.”
SNOWDEN: The NSA leaker wants to come home, with conditions.
AFP’s Anna Malpas: “Edward Snowden, the fugitive whistleblower who has been given refuge in Russia, is willing to return to the United States if he is given a fair trial, his lawyer said Tuesday.”
AND FINALLY, Elias Groll and Reid Standish on masterpieces of Russian propaganda.