FP’s Situation Report: Iran talks continue two days past the deadline; Democrats lose an outspoken foreign policy voice; Yemenis turn on Saudi airstrikes; Al-Shabab storms a Kenyan university; and much more from around the world.
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat Iran talks stretch two days past the March 31 deadline. It is unclear whether Iranian and P5+1 negotiators still have the momentum to get a deal done. But they vowed to try during another round of talks in Switzerland on Thursday. FP’s John Hudson: “And after shelving the delicate ...
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat
Iran talks stretch two days past the March 31 deadline. It is unclear whether Iranian and P5+1 negotiators still have the momentum to get a deal done. But they vowed to try during another round of talks in Switzerland on Thursday. FP’s John Hudson: “And after shelving the delicate discussions earlier Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius headed back to Switzerland from Paris hours later to reclaim his seat at the table.”
More on Iran below.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is indicted on corruption charges. The Democratic foreign policy heavyweight is now facing possible time behind bars after New Jersey prosecutors handed up a 14-count indictment that includes bribery and conspiracy charges. He’s relinquished his seat as ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a mixed blessing for President Barack Obama, FP’s David Francis reports.
More on Menendez below.
Yemenis reject Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign against the Houthis. As Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi sits in Riyadh, some of his closest political allies are blasting Saudi airstrikes against the Iranian-backed militants. The Wall Street Journal’s Hakim Almasmari and Maria Abi-Habib: “Abdulaziz Jubari, the head of the Justice and Peace party and a chief supporter of Mr. Hadi, denounced the Saudis’ ongoing assault, saying the toll on civilians and Yemen’s infrastructure was too high.”
More on Yemen below.
Breaking Thursday morning, from CNN’s Holly Yan on an al-Shabab attack: “A swarm of gunmen stormed a Kenya university before dawn Thursday, firing indiscriminately and taking hostages. At least 65 people were hospitalized from the attack at Garissa University College, the Kenyan Red Cross said. Local media reported death tolls ranging from eight to 15.”
PRESS PACK: Is today the day a deal gets done?
The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon, Laurence Norman, and Carol E. Lee: “The White House began discussing its options in case of failure to reach a nuclear deal with Iran as faltering talks fueled criticism of President Barack Obama’s negotiating strategy.”
The New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon and David E. Sanger: “Mr. Kerry spent Wednesday night meeting again with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, for what diplomats said could be a series of pivotal sessions. At issue, officials said, were the pace at which sanctions would be lifted and restrictions on Iran’s ability to develop new, advanced centrifuges, which are upward of 20 times more powerful than its current models.”
The Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe: “The president’s decision to keep negotiating reflects both the importance he has placed on the talks and his particular view of how American leadership, persistence and engagement with enemies can change the world.”
Welcome to Thursday’s edition of the Situation Report, where we highly suggest you read FP’s Elias Groll’s take on the Islamic State and the infidel chicken.
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WHO’S WHERE WHEN TODAY
10:00 a.m. Melanie Kenderdine, energy counselor to U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, speaks on the Quadrennial Energy Review at the Atlantic Council. 11:00 a.m. Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir speaks at the Rayburn House Office Building on “Yemen in Chaos.” 3:00 p.m. Pakistani journalist and security specialist Zahid Hussain speaks on Pakistan’s counter-militancy efforts at the Wilson Center.
WHAT’S MOVING MARKETS
The Financial Times’ Peter Spiegel: “Greece on Wednesday submitted a fresh list of economic reforms to eurozone authorities, estimating the measures could raise as much as [$6.45 billion].”
AFP: “United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said … that Washington was ‘ready to welcome’ the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), easing towards the new development institution after the US expressed early concerns.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Tom Fairless and Alistair Barr: “Europe’s competition regulator is preparing to move against Google Inc. in the next few weeks, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday, setting the stage for charges against the U.S. Internet-search giant in a five-year-old investigation that has stalled three times and sparked a political firestorm.”
MENENDEZ: The New Jersey Democrat is primed for a fight.
The Washington Post’s Paul Kane and Carol D. Leonnig: “Menendez has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He was defiant Wednesday night before a boisterous crowd of supporters, saying that Melgen’s gifts were a result of friendship dating to the early 1990s and not in exchange for political favors.”
YEMEN: U.S. government leaves its citizens behind in Yemen as the Saudi air campaign continues. Meanwhile, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula attacks the port city Al Mukalla.
The Guardian’s Smitha Khorana and Spencer Ackerman: “Saudi-led air strikes against Shia Houthi rebels have prompted urgent warnings about dangers to civilians, and several countries have evacuated their civilians, including China, India, Pakistan and Somalia. But the U.S. has not followed suit, despite having three navy ships in nearby waters, including the frigate USS Simpson and the destroyer USS Sterett in or near the Gulf of Aden.”
Associated Press: “Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed Shiite rebel positions Wednesday across Yemen as a missile strike on a dairy factory killed 35 workers, authorities said, as both sides disputed who fired on it.”
The New York Times’ Saeed al-Batati and Kareem Fahim: “In an apparently coordinated offensive that began after midnight, the militants attacked security headquarters, the presidential palace and other official installations. That appeared to be intended as a diversion before the militants attacked the central security prison, their primary target.”
ISLAMIC STATE: The militant group makes gains in Syria and clashes with Palestinian refugees. Doubts about an outright Iraqi victory in Tikrit are growing. Meanwhile, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki casts a long shadow as a new generation of fighters comes of age.
The New York Times’ Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad: “Islamic State militants in Syria have seized new territory on multiple fronts in recent days, killing dozens of civilians in the central province of Hama.”
The BBC: “Islamic State (IS) militants have entered the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in Damascus, activists and Palestinian officials say.”
AFP: “A top leader in the Badr organisation, one of the most prominent Shia militias in Iraq, admitted that Tikrit had not been completely purged of ISIL fighters.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Matt Bradley and Julian E. Barnes: “The Iraqi military’s operation to root out Islamic State militants from Tikrit this week has empowered a new generation of militias, which emerged from relative obscurity to take a lead role in the battle.”
The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris and Liz Sly: “Maliki has been widely blamed for [Iraq’s problems], with policies widely seen as sectarian. But he does not rule out that he could one day return.”
NIGERIA: Newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari vows to snuff out Boko Haram.
The Wall Street Journal’s Heidi Vogt and Patrick McGroarty: “A pledge from Nigeria’s new president-elect to tackle the country’s intractable troubles of terrorism and corruption elicited cheer from his countrymen and helped underpin a stock-market rally, signs of new optimism that arrived overnight in Africa’s top economy.”
RUSSIA/UKRAINE: Russian intrusions into Norway’s air space bring back the Cold War. The war in Ukraine provides insights into Russia’s military technology.
The New York Times’ Andrew Higgins: “In Norway … the ‘new old normal’ has come as a jolt. It has set off debate over military spending and highlighted how quickly Mr. Putin has shredded the certainties of the post-Cold War era.”
The Military Times’ Brendan McGarry: “The conflict has exposed the potential for Russian electronic warfare technology to pierce U.S. and allied battlefield communications networks, Hodges and other U.S. generals said.”
PAKISTAN: Pakistan will buy eight Chinese submarines.
The Wall Street Journal’s Qasim Nauman and Jeremy Page: “The deal is also expected to be among Pakistan’s biggest weapons purchases and is likely to intensify an emerging undersea contest in the Indian Ocean, where India and China are also expanding submarine operations.”
MIDDLE EAST: Boehner is quiet during his trip to Israel as the Palestinians join the International Criminal Court.
The New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren: “If the speaker of the House visits Israel and does not say anything substantive, does it have any effect on the troubled relations between Washington and Jerusalem?”
Reuters’s Thomas Escritt: “The Palestinians, who became the 123rd member of the world’s permanent war crimes tribunal, said they would give prosecutors ample time to complete an initial inquiry into last year’s Gaza conflict, but would formally request an investigation if it took too long.”
ASIA: U.S. and Indian interests align. The man accused of attacking the U.S. ambassador in Seoul is charged.
Writing for the Diplomat, Jhinuk Chowdhury: “In the Indian Ocean, Delhi is increasingly aligning with the role that the U.S. wants it to play — that of a ‘net security provider.’”
CNN’s K.J. Kwon and Holly Yan: “The man accused of stabbing U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert in Seoul last month is now charged with attempted murder, a South Korean court official said Wednesday. Kim Ki-Jong has also been charged with assaulting a foreign envoy and business obstruction, the Seoul Central District Court official said.”
Business Insider’s Jeremy Bender with AP’s incredible photos of a joint U.S.-South Korea military exercise.
MILITARY SUICIDES: A new study finds no direct connection between deployment and the suicide rate of members of the military.
The New York Times’ Dave Philipps: “The findings are the latest in a series of studies prompted by a military suicide rate that has nearly doubled since 2005.”
NSA: Obama reveals sweeping new order giving the United States the power to sanction those who hack U.S. targets.
FP’s Elias Groll: “On a conference call with reporters, one of his key lieutenants admitted that it was the cyberattack allegedly carried by North Korea on Sony that convinced the White House of the need for such a measure.”
AND FINALLY, a friendly reminder that your tax dollars are paying for $14 million in eggs.
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