The Cable

FP’s Situation Report: No Iran nuclear deal yet as Tehran backs away from a key concession; Arab leaders create a pan-Arab fighting force; U.S. tries to bolster NATO’s eastern members; and much more from around the world.

By David Francis with Sabine Muscat No deal on Iran’s nuclear program yet. One day before the deadline, negotiators are still trying to carve out the framework of an agreement. FP’s David Francis: “Iran and the world powers also appear to be grappling with two other controversial issues: Tehran’s ability to conduct research and development ...

By David Francis with Sabine Muscat

No deal on Iran’s nuclear program yet. One day before the deadline, negotiators are still trying to carve out the framework of an agreement. FP’s David Francis: “Iran and the world powers also appear to be grappling with two other controversial issues: Tehran’s ability to conduct research and development on more advanced centrifuges, and the speed with which sanctions against Iran will be lifted.”

Breaking late Sunday, the New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon and David E. Sanger: “With a negotiating deadline just two days away, Iranian officials on Sunday backed away from a critical element of a proposed nuclear agreement, saying they are no longer willing to ship their atomic fuel out of the country.”

More on Iran below.

Arab leaders form a joint fighting force. At a summit in Egypt Sunday, Arab leaders proposed forming an army to intervene in insurgencies across the Middle East and counter Iran’s growing regional influence. But experts warn unity will be hard to achieve and adding foreign troops to existing conflicts might make them worse. The Washington Post’s Erin Cunningham, Heba Habib, and Ali al-Mujahed: “Arab officials said they still need to hammer out the details of the proposed joint force, but broader questions remain over the ability of Arab countries — many of which have killed scores of their own citizens — to stem the region’s wars through military action.”

More on the Middle East below.

America tries to bolster weary Eastern European allies. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine has many eastern NATO allies spooked. The convoy of more than 500 U.S. troops driving 120 armored vehicles driving across former Soviet bloc countries is an attempt to reassure Eastern Europe that NATO’s got their back. The New York Times’ Rick Lyman: “Operation Dragoon Ride, which began a week ago in the Baltics and is due to conclude later this week, will be the longest such movement the United States Army has made across Europe since Gen. George S. Patton diverted his Third Army to relieve Bastogne, Belgium, in 1944.”

More on Russia below.

PRESS PACK: Iran talks are down to the wire.

The Wall Street Journal’s Carol E. Lee and Jay Solomon: “White House officials have begun to express privately a willingness to accept legislation that gives Congress some oversight of the nuclear deal if talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne result in agreement on the main outlines of a final nuclear deal before Tuesday night’s deadline.”

Reuters’s Dan Williams: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned on Sunday the framework Iranian nuclear agreement being sought by international negotiators, saying it was even worse than his country had feared.”

FP’s Elias Groll: “If signed, the agreement may put to bed a point of tension between Iran and the international community that has raised fears of a possible arms race in the Middle East, a military conflict between Israel and Iran, and the possibility that Iran might ferry an eventual nuclear weapon to one of its terrorist proxies.”

The Washington Post’s Steven Mufson: “The six global powers negotiating a deal to limit the scope of Iran’s nuclear program are hoping that the prospect of ending economic sanctions will entice Iranian leaders to come to an agreement in the next few days.”

Welcome to Monday’s edition of the Situation Report, where we hear America’s favorite handyman Bob Vila was in Cuba this weekend helping fix up Ernest Hemingway’s former home.

Contact me at and follow me @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.


10:00 a.m. The U.N. Security Council holds a meeting on “Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts.” 3:00 p.m. The Wilson Center hosts a panel on “The Modi Effect: Inside Narendra Modi’s Campaign to Transform India.” 4:30 p.m. Former NATO Allied Commander General Wesley Clark speaks on Ukraine at the Atlantic Council. 6:30 p.m. Sarah Sewall, State Department undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, speaks on the prevention of genocide and atrocities at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.


The Financial Times’ Peter Spiegel and Kerin Hope: “Athens haggled with its lenders through the weekend to try to narrow differences over economic reforms, but remaining gaps suggested that there would be no immediate relief for Greece’s cash-strapped government.”

Reuters’s Adam Jourdan: “China’s central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan warned on Sunday that the country needs to be vigilant for signs of deflation and said policymakers were closely watching slowing global economic growth and declining commodity prices.”

The New York Times’ Jane Perlez: “Australia plans to join an Asian infrastructure bank led by China, the government announced on Sunday, reversing an earlier decision taken at the urging of the United States not to become a member.”

The Financial Times’ Robin Harding on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic experiment: “His so-called ‘Abenomics’ policies will therefore provide a roadmap — good or bad — to European countries where similar problems are brewing.”

YEMEN: As regional powers fight for influence in Yemen, a former president emerges from behind the scenes. The Yemeni air force is decimated; are foreign troops on the way?

The Atlantic’s Matt Schiavenza on ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh: “Four years after the Arab Spring protests inspired hope of a better future for Yemen, Saleh’s return to prominence leaves little doubt that, elections or not, he has truly won.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Hakim Almasmari and Maria Abi-Habib: “Saudi warplanes struck military bases that had been seized by Houthi rebels in Yemen, crippling the air force in a U.S.-backed campaign that has led to fears of a proxy war among the Middle East’s big powers.”

CNN’s Ben Brumfield and Hakim Almasmari: “Saudi Arabia and Egypt have both spoken about the possibility of putting boots on the ground before. And on Saturday, Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen said he expected coalition troops to be in Yemen within days.”

ISLAMIC STATE: Iraqi forces are in no hurry to secure Tikrit as their numbers shrink after U.S. airstrikes. Islamist rebels recapture Idlib. Meanwhile, the Islamic State beheads a group of Shiites in Syria.

FP’s David Rothkopf on the situation in the Middle East: “For the first time since the World Wars, virtually every country from Libya to Afghanistan is involved in a military conflict. (Oman seems to be the exception.) The degree of chaos, uncertainty, and complexity among the twisted and often contradictory alliances and enmities is mind-boggling.”

The New York Times’ Rod Nordland on Tikrit: “After three days of American airstrikes that at times witnesses here described as ‘carpet bombing,’ Iraq’s military seemed in no great hurry on Saturday to press its advantage.”

The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris: “Some Shiite militiamen have drawn back from the fight to protest U.S. involvement. While that may suit the American commanders, who do not wish to be seen giving air cover to Iranian-backed paramilitary groups, Iraqi officers on the ground are struggling to plug the gap while negotiations take place to persuade the militiamen to return to the battle.”

The BBC: “Islamist rebels have captured the north-western Syrian city of Idlib from government forces, monitors say. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the Ahrar al-Sham, Jund al-Aqsa and Nusra Front groups had taken the city on Saturday.”

USA Today’s William M. Welch: “The Islamic State group released a new video Sunday showing its fighters cutting off the heads of eight men described as Shiite Muslims, who were led to their execution by teenage boys.”

UKRAINE: Despite the holding ceasefire, experts expect things to get worse.

The New York Times’ Steven Erlanger: “Senior Western diplomats and analysts are predicting a further escalation of tensions, including the placing of Russian nuclear weapons in the annexed Crimean Peninsula; efforts to create more unrest in cities like Mariupol and as far west as Odessa; advances by Russian-supported rebels against an undergunned and dispirited Ukrainian Army; and attempts to destabilize the Western-leaning government in Kiev, beginning with President Petro O. Poroshenko himself.”

AFGHANISTAN: An AP journalist’s killer is on his way to prison.

The Associated Press: “Afghanistan’s highest court has ruled that a police officer convicted of murdering an Associated Press photographer, Anja Niedringhaus, should serve 20 years in prison.”

EBOLA: Scientists say safe sex is necessary for those who have survived the disease.

The New York Times’ Sheri Fink: “The Liberian government recommended on Saturday that survivors of Ebola practice safe sex indefinitely, until more information can be collected on the length of time the virus might remain present in body fluids including semen.”

AFRICA: The winner of Nigeria’s presidential election is still unknown as al-Shabab strikes in Mogadishu. Meanwhile, Tunisian authorities say those responsible for the museum attack are dead.

The Wall Street Journal’s Patrick McGroarty and Heidi Vogt: “Nigeria’s government extended its presidential election into Sunday amid technical glitches at polling stations, militant attacks and mounting anger, as the leading challenger’s supporters called for the cancellation of the vote in one state.”

CBS News: “Boko Haram extremists killed at least 41 people, including a legislator, and scared hundreds of people from polling stations in three states in the northeast on Saturday.”

The Associated Press’s Abdi Guled: “Somali special forces stood over three bloodied bodies of the alleged attackers after officials declared they have full control of the Maka Al-Mukarramah Hotel Saturday, more than 12 hours after gunmen, believed to be six in number, from the Islamic rebel group al-Shabab stormed into the hotel.”

The Washington Post: “World leaders joined tens of thousands of Tunisians on Sunday to march in solidarity against Islamist militants, a day after security forces killed members of a group blamed for a deadly museum attack.”

ASIA: The U.N. formally criticizes North Korea’s human rights record. A high-ranking Japanese politician makes the case to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter for a stronger military.

Yonhap News: “South Korea on Friday welcomed a U.N. decision to adopt a resolution that calls for improvement in the human rights situations in North Korea.”

The Diplomat’s Mina Pollmann: “At their meeting, Carter praised Japan’s recent efforts to develop a new legal framework to better defend Japan in an increasingly uncertain East Asia.”

NSA: The agency missed a chance to avoid the Snowden scandal.

The Associated Press’s Ken Dilanian: “The National Security Agency considered abandoning its secret program to collect and store American calling records in the months before leaker Edward Snowden revealed the practice, current and former intelligence officials say, because some officials believed the costs outweighed the meager counterterrorism benefits.”

BOSTON MARATHON TRIAL: Will Dzhokhar Tsarnaev take the stand?

The New York Times’ Katharine Q. Seelye: “If he is called, Mr. Tsarnaev’s testimony, along with his attitude and body language, could play a major role in determining whether he spends the rest of his life in prison or is condemned to death, if he is convicted.”

AND FINALLY, we caught up on HBO’s The Jinx this weekend, and we’re fascinated by all things Robert Durst, including this.


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