FP’s Situation Report: Iran nuclear talks continue past the deadline; U.S. resumes weapons shipments to Egypt; Nigeria elects former military strongman as president; Iraq claims victory in Tikrit; and much more from around the world.
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat Iran nuclear talks continue as the supposed deadline comes and goes. Iran, the United States, and the other members of P5+1 are still unable to seal a deal. FP’s John Hudson on the remaining points of contention: “They include: how quickly U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran will be ...
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat
Iran nuclear talks continue as the supposed deadline comes and goes. Iran, the United States, and the other members of P5+1 are still unable to seal a deal. FP’s John Hudson on the remaining points of contention: “They include: how quickly U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran will be lifted in the event of a deal; how fast Iran will be permitted to develop its nuclear technology in the final years of an agreement; where Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium should be stored; and the type of penalty system for holding Iran accountable in the event that it violates the terms of the deal.”
More on Iran below.
U.S. restarts weapons shipments to Egypt. The White House announced it would resume shipments of American fighter jets, tanks, and missiles to Cairo. They had been suspended amid concerns President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi wouldn’t institute democratic reforms. The equipment is arriving just in time for the Egyptian military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, FP’s Paul McLeary reports.
More on the Middle East below.
Nigeria elects former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari as its new president. It took four days for votes to be calculated, but Buhari ultimately defeated incumbent Goodluck Jonathan. It was the first time a sitting president was ousted since Nigeria’s 1999 transition from military rule. Some are concerned Buhari’s victory could weaken the country’s fragile democracy. FP’s Siobhán O’Grady: “Buhari first won control of the country’s presidency through a 1983 military coup and was ousted by another in 1985. The general’s time in office was marked by arrests of the political opposition and a heavy-handed anti-corruption drive that saw many businessmen and officials detained by the government.”
More on Nigeria below.
The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris: “Iraqi forces claimed to have seized the city of Tikrit from Islamic State militants on Tuesday after U.S.-led airstrikes cleared the way for ground operations, an advance that would mark the government’s most significant victory over the extremists since their summer blitz.
More on the Islamic State below.
PRESS PACK: What deadline? Iran talks to continue for at least another day.
The Associated Press’s Matthew Lee and George Jahn: “Iran nuclear negotiators resumed talks here Wednesday, just hours after abandoning a March 31 deadline to reach the outline of a deal and agreeing to press on. However, as the discussions dragged on, three of the six foreign ministers involved left the talks, and prospects for agreement remained uncertain.”
The New York Times’ David E. Sanger: “As the nuclear negotiations dragged into overtime here on Tuesday, some uniquely American and Iranian political sensitivities were permeating the marathon negotiating sessions, leading many to wonder whether two countries that have barely spoken for 35 years are just not ready to overcome old suspicions.”
Bloomberg’s Eli Lake: “Now is the time to praise Javad Zarif. Whatever you might think of Iran’s foreign minister, he knows how to bargain.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Laurence Norman: “Failure to meet the nuclear deadlines has been seized on by U.S. lawmakers who have warned that they would push for fresh sanctions legislation on Iran if a framework agreement isn’t reached on time.”
Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of the Situation Report, where we’re touched by this photo of a child apparently surrendering to a camera in Syria.
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WHO’S WHERE WHEN TODAY
9:00 a.m. The American Enterprise Institute hosts a panel on “Is Iran the New North Korea? Lessons from the Agreed Framework.” 10:00 a.m. The Brookings Institution hosts a panel on “Deal or No Deal? Negotiating with Iran.” 10:30 a.m. The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a panel on “Tomorrow’s Army: The Future of Landpower and Army Innovation.” 12:00 p.m. Former Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Samir Sumaida’ie speaks on “Iraq, Now and After ISIS” at the Wilson Center. 12:30 p.m. The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a panel on “Information Sharing for Cybersecurity.”
WHAT’S MOVING MARKETS
FP’s Keith Johnson: “The United States has outlined its plan to trim greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, setting the stage for a huge international climate change conference in Paris later this year that’s meant to craft a workable, global effort to limit the negative effects of rising temperatures.”
The Guardian’s Helena Smith: “Setting the tone for a controversial visit to Moscow, the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, went out of his way to court Russia on Tuesday as Athens continued to argue over reforms demanded in return for aid from the EU and IMF.”
ISLAMIC STATE: Has Tikrit been taken? Syrian rebels try to cement control over Idlib.
The New York Times’ Rod Nordland: “Tikrit had not yet actually fallen, though, according to accounts from several people in Tikrit. Extremists of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, remained in the much-contested city.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Raja Abdulrahim: “The rebel groups that took over a provincial capital in northwest Syria over the weekend are now trying to consolidate control and establish civil governance.”
NIGERIA: Buhari takes over at a perilous time as Nigerians embrace his spotted past.
The Washington Post’s Kevin Sieff: “Buhari, 72, will assume power in Africa’s richest nation at a time of crippling uncertainty — as public revenue shrinks because of the falling price of oil and the Boko Haram insurgency threatens the country’s northeast.”
The New York Times’ Adam Nossiter: “It was precisely the ramrod-straight former officer’s tough history that was one of his biggest electoral draws in a country swamped by the twin scourges of Islamist insurgency and corruption.”
TERRORISM: Governments are increasingly turning to death sentences in the fight against terrorism as Europe tries to crack down on terror financing.
FP’s Justine Drennan: “At least 607 people were executed last year, a 22 percent drop from 2013, but the number of death sentences issued rose 28 percent. Those figures don’t account for most executions in countries that refuse to report their executions, such as North Korea, Vietnam, and China, the last of which executes thousands each year.”
Reuters on terror financing: “Michel Sapin and Wolfgang Schaeuble set out a plan of action as a follow up from an EU declaration on the subject dating from Jan. 27, which followed deadly attacks by militant Islamist gunmen in France and elsewhere in Europe.”
RUSSIA/UKRAINE: There are new allegations that Moscow is trying to undermine Ukraine’s stability. Putin is likely to make a September trip to address the U.N. General Assembly.
Newsweek’s Maxim Tucker: “Ukraine’s state security service, the SBU, says Russia has entered into a new phase of its campaign to destabilise Ukraine, with the 22 February attack in Kharkiv just one of a series of bombings orchestrated by Russian spy services, the FSB and the GRU.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Sonne: “Mr. Putin’s likely visit to New York comes amid the deepest freeze in U.S.-Russian relations since the days of the Cold War.”
AFGHANISTAN: More U.S. money disappears into the war-torn country.
FP’s Paul McLeary: “The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, found that U.S. officials only had data on about 57 percent of the $795 million spent by ground commanders on the Commander’s Emergency Response Program from 2002 to 2013.”
YEMEN: The U.N. warns of the country’s total collapse as Iran’s deputy foreign minister calls for political talks between all parties — and warns Saudi Arabia against intervening.
The New York Times’ Kareem Fahim and Nick Cumming-Bruce: “‘The situation in Yemen is extremely alarming, with dozens of civilians killed over the past four days,’” Mr. al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement. “‘The country seems to be on the verge of total collapse.’”
The Wall Street Journal’s Hakim Almasmari and Rory Jones: “Mr. Amir-Abdollahian said intervention in Yemen wouldn’t solve the country’s problems and that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies ‘were putting themselves in a very difficult position’ by launching airstrikes.”
MIDDLE EAST: Donors pledge $3.8 billion to victims of the civil war in Syria. The leader of an Islamist rival government in Libya is sacked by his parliament.
Reuters: “Tuesday’s meeting was attended by nearly 80 governments and dozens of aid agencies, with the United States promising $507 million, Kuwait $500 million, the United Arab Emirates $100 million and Saudi Arabia $60 million.”
The BBC on Libya: “Omar al-Hassi was appointed in August to lead an alternative government after Islamist militia seized the capital. MPs voted to oust him on Tuesday following allegations he misled parliament about government finances.”
AFRICA: Thousands are expected to travel to Kenya for an international summit hosted by President Barack Obama despite State Department warnings about dangers to Americans. The Ebola epidemic hits a grim milestone.
FP’s David Francis: “Travelers who want to join him must first confront the State Department and other Western governments that have long warned: Go to Kenya at your own risk.”
TIME’s Alexandra Sifferlin: “More than 25,000 people have been infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.”
ASIA: A U.S. admiral criticizes China’s expansion in the South China Sea. Myanmar tries to make peace with rebels, and Thailand lifts martial law while keeping the army’s powers.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s John Garnaut: “Admiral Harry Harris, soon to take charge of Pacific Command, told a dinner at the Australian War Memorial on Tuesday night that the string of new islands posed a serious threat to stability in the South China Sea.”
Reuters’s Aung Hla Tun: “The United States led international praise on Tuesday for a draft ceasefire accord between Myanmar’s government and ethnic rebel groups, a move aimed at ending more than 65 years of armed conflict in the country.”
Reuters’s Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Pracha Hariraksapitak: “Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday he has asked for King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s permission to lift martial law, which has been in place since before a coup 10 months ago, replacing it with a law that maintains the army’s wide-ranging powers.”
LATIN AMERICA: A spying scandal rocks Peru’s government. The U.S. and Cuba talk human rights as Argentina complains about the militarization of the Falklands to the U.N.
The Wall Street Journal’s Robert Kozak: “Peru’s Congress voted late Monday to censure Prime Minister Ana Jara for failing to control the nation’s intelligence-gathering agency, delivering a harsh blow to the government of President Ollanta Humala.”
Reuters: “While no major announcements are expected from the meeting, it was the first formal dialog tackling human rights between the countries since U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced on Dec. 17 they were seeking to restore diplomatic ties.”
Newsweek’s Hayley Richardson: “The plea comes just days before the 33rd anniversary of the start of the Falklands war on Thursday, April 2.”
NSA: The man killed during Monday’s Ft. Meade incident is identified.
The Washington Post’s Peter Hermann and Lynh Bui: “The FBI on Tuesday identified Ricky Shawatza Hall, 27, as one of the two men in a Ford Escape that police fired at as the vehicle plowed into a police cruiser just outside the NSA’s Fort Meade campus.””
CLINTON EMAILS: The scandal won’t die.
CNN’s Dan Merica: “Hillary Clinton emailed her staff with multiple devices while serving as secretary of state, according to a source with knowledge of the emails, a revelation that raises questions about a main defense Clinton has used in her email controversy.”
FP’s David Francis: “Philip Gordon, a veteran member of the Obama administration who has worked at the highest rungs of the White House on the most pressing foreign policy issues of the day, is joining the Council on Foreign Relations as a senior fellow.”
AND FINALLY, may the Force be with you.