FP’s Situation Report: Boko Haram steals from the poor; Uneasy alliances fight against the Islamic State; Pentagon needs to find money for nukes; and much more from around the world.
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat Boko Haram pulls a reverse Robin Hood. Militants in southern Nigeria have made millions siphoning the country’s oil riches. The Islamic extremist group in northern Nigeria is doing the opposite, raiding the meager bounties of poor fishermen from Niger to finance their campaign of terror. FP’s Siobhán O’Grady: “Boko ...
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat
Boko Haram pulls a reverse Robin Hood. Militants in southern Nigeria have made millions siphoning the country’s oil riches. The Islamic extremist group in northern Nigeria is doing the opposite, raiding the meager bounties of poor fishermen from Niger to finance their campaign of terror. FP’s Siobhán O’Grady: “Boko Haram is now raising money by ignoring the rich and targeting the poor, an unusually cruel tactic that takes struggling innocents and pushes them over the financial cliff.”
More on Nigeria below.
Shiites fighting the Islamic State have American blood on their hands. Shiite militias in Iraq are leading the fight to push the group out of Tikrit. Some of their best-known fighters are responsible for attacks against America, another reminder of the twisted alliances born from countering the Islamic State, FP’s David Kenner reports from Baghdad.
More on the Islamic State below.
The Pentagon has a nuclear weapons problem. Nukes are expensive to maintain, and DoD expects to have a hard time finding the billions of dollars needed to keep them in shape over the next decade. FP’s Kate Brannen: The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer “Frank Kendall said that starting in 2021, it’s going to be a challenge to identify money within the defense budget to pay for the military’s nuclear modernization plans.”
PRESS PACK: The aftermath of the knife attack against U.S. Ambassador Lippert.
FP’s Justine Drennan: “The attack against U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert appears to have been the spontaneous act of one angry Korean nationalist. But in its latest move to needle the United States, North Korea is making the most of it, calling it a ‘knife attack of justice.’”
The Wall Street Journal’s Alastair Gale and Jeyup S. Kwaak: “Mr. Lippert sustained a deep gash across his right cheek, for which he received more than 80 stitches, and cuts on his left arm and fingers, doctors said. He will remain hospitalized for a few days.”
The New York Times’ Choe Sang-hun on the attacker, Kim Ki-jong: “The man who attacked the American ambassador to South Korea on Thursday morning is a fringe political activist with a history of violence, and he acted alone when he rushed the diplomat and slashed his face with a knife, the South Korean police said.”
The Washington Post’s Yoonjung Seo, Anna Fifield, and Brian Murphy: “The provocative message carried by the Korean Central News Agency reflected sharpened rhetoric and optics — including images of the North’s leader Kim Jong Un conferring with commanders — in response to the joint military drills that began earlier this week.”
Welcome to Friday’s edition of the Situation Report, where we hope Harrison Ford, like our favorite character, is OK after crash-landing his plane.
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WHO’S WHERE WHEN TODAY: Please check to make sure inclement weather in Washington hasn’t affected these events.
9:30 a.m. U.S. Institute of Peace hosts a panel on “Women Preventing Violent Extremism.” 10:00 a.m. U.N. Security Council meets on Ukraine. 10:00 a.m. New America Foundation hosts a conference on “Electric Shock: Threats, Risks, and Vulnerabilities in the U.S. Electric Grid.”
Secretary of State John Kerry is in London.
WHAT’S MOVING MARKETS
Forbes’s Maggie McGrath: “ECB president Mario Draghi announced Thursday that the ECB will begin purchasing euro-denominated public sector securities in the secondary market — i.e., quantitative easing — on Monday, March 9.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Brian Blackstone: “The European Central Bank raised its economic forecasts for this year and next in a sign of confidence that Europe—one of the global economy’s trouble spots in recent years—is gaining strength as the bank launches a [$1.1 trillion] stimulus package.”
The South China Morning Post’s Peggy Sito: “China is on track to overtake Germany and Britain as the country with the third-largest number of people with assets of more than $30 million within 10 years, a report estimates.”
NIGERIA: Boko Haram is targeting those who target them.
The Associated Press’s Haruna Umar: “Boko Haram militants are rampaging through northeast Nigerian villages and selectively killing men, boys and members of the same tribe as Chadian forces that have dealt major blows to the Nigerian Islamic extremists.”
RUSSIA: British PM Cameron gets tough on Moscow as Russia convicts a police officer for spying for the United States. Meanwhile, Putin’s friends suffer under sanctions.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jenny Gross and Cassell Bryan-Low: “British Prime Minister David Cameron said the West needs a tough, long-term response to Russia over tensions in Ukraine, warning that he and other leaders were prepared to take sanctions ‘to a whole different level’ if Moscow ramps up its aggression.”
The Moscow Times’ Peter Spinella: “Roman Ushakov was a police major in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk when he passed a coded Interior Ministry message to a CIA handler.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Philip Shishkin: “Banks controlled by three billionaire friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin have seen about $640 million of assets frozen in the U.S. as retaliation for the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine.”
UKRAINE: Washington continues to send mixed messages on lethal assistance to Ukraine as U.S. military trainers arrive.
FP’s David Francis: “An array of powerful House Democrats and Republicans sent a new letter to President Barack Obama calling for arming Ukraine.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Carol J. Williams: “Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday called the arrival of U.S. military trainers in western Ukraine a ‘provocation‘ and warned Ukrainians that they should rethink the consequences of hosting Western forces.”
ISLAMIC STATE: The Islamic State tries to disrupt an assault on Tikrit as the U.N. condemns Syria for the use of chemical weapons. A key member of the al-Nusra Front is killed.
Reuters’s Saif Hameed and Dominic Evans: “Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have set fire to oil wells northeast of the city of Tikrit, a witness said, to obstruct an assault by Shi’ite militia fighters and Iraqi soldiers trying to drive them from the Sunni Muslim city and surrounding towns.”
The New York Times’ Somini Sengupta: “The United States is pushing the United Nations Security Council to condemn the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon in Syria, and impose unspecified measures against those who use it in the future.”
Reuters’s Mariam Karouny: “General Military Commander Abu Humam al-Shami, a veteran of Islamist militant fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, was the senior-most member of the group to die in the Syria war, an insurgent source said.”
Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf: “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters have used a bulldozer to start destroying a 3,000-year-old Assyrian city near Mosul in Iraq.
The Associated Press’s Sinan Salaheddin reports on attacks in Baghdad that left at least 16 dead.
PAKISTAN: Concerns grow over China’s investment in nuclear power in a desperate Pakistan.
The Washington Post’s Tim Craig on the real nuclear danger from Pakistan: “On the edge of Karachi, on an earthquake-prone seafront vulnerable to tsunamis and not far from where al-Qaeda militants nearly hijacked a Pakistan navy vessel last fall, China is supplying two large nuclear reactors for energy-starved Pakistan.”
IRAN: Kerry reassures Saudi Arabia on nuclear talks as Iran signals it might accept a 10-year partial freeze of its nuclear program. Iran frees a kidnapped diplomat in Yemen.
The New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon: “Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday sought to reassure Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that the negotiation of a nuclear accord with Iran would not lead the Obama administration to let down its guard against any Iranian interference in the region.”
Reuters’s Louis Charbonneau: “Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday suggested that a 10-year moratorium on some aspects of the country’s nuclear program might be acceptable to Tehran, though he declined to discuss the issue in detail.”
Reuters: “IRNA, Iran’s state news agency, quoted deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian as saying that an Iranian intelligence operation in Yemen rescued Noor Ahmad Nikbakht, an administrative official at Tehran’s embassy in Sanaa.”
CLINTON EMAILS: The controversy isn’t going away.
Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin and Eli Lake: “Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call for some of her private e-mails to be publicly disclosed won’t placate her critics, especially Republicans on the House special committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, who now demand access to far more information.”
The Washington Post’s Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Anne Gearan: “A State Department review of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s e-mails from her time leading the agency could reveal whether she violated security policies with her use of a private e-mail server.”
BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING: Survivors share their stories.
The Boston Globe’s Milton J. Valencia: “William Richard could see his young son fading before him, dying on the sidewalk at the Boston Marathon finish line.”
CHINA: China’s anti-terrorism law creates a new front with the United States.
The Washington Post’s Simon Denyer: “The new law is symptomatic of the gulf between China and the West over human rights, and it is widening a serious rift between Washington and Beijing over cyberspace.”
EBOLA: Liberia’s last patient leaves the hospital as a vaccine is tested.
BBC: “Beatrice Yardolo, 58, left a Chinese-run treatment centre in the capital Monrovia after two weeks of treatment.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Morse: “An Ebola vaccine developed by Canada’s public health agency will go into late-stage human testing Saturday in Guinea.”
GUANTÁNAMO BAY: Former detainees are picking up arms.
FP’s Elias Groll: “Between July and January, nine former inmates of the American prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, returned to the battlefield to carry out terror attacks or join insurgencies around the world.”
AND FINALLY, FP’s Groll on American politicians going overboard with comparisons to the Islamic State.
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