Situation Report: Baghdad looking for guns and cash; al Shabab hits Mogadishu; diplomacy saves embarrassment at Americas summit; and more
By Paul McLeary and Sabine Muscat Wheels down. Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily tweeted a picture last night of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his team landing in Washington for three days of intensive meetings with U.S. government officials and international financial leaders. One of the big questions revolves around the coming assault ...
By Paul McLeary and Sabine Muscat
Wheels down. Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily tweeted a picture last night of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his team landing in Washington for three days of intensive meetings with U.S. government officials and international financial leaders.
One of the big questions revolves around the coming assault on Mosul and the push into the Sunni-dominated Anbar province, where the Islamic State has run the show for the past 16 months. In an interview with Sunni lawmaker Jaber al-Jaberi, FP’s Lara Jakes reports that an Anbar campaign would focus first on liberating Ramadi,move on to Fallujah, and finally look to push the Islamic State from the western reaches of the provence. “In effect, Jaberi said, that will lock down security of the main highway from Baghdad that runs through Anbar to the border with Jordan.” But that’s a best case scenario. Jabari said that the Abadi government will “still have to do more in Anbar,” calling the current level of support to Sunni tribal fighters “very weak.”
Cutting the rat lines. Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been brawling with Islamic State groups from Tikrit to Baiji to the eastern fringes of Baghdad, FP’s Paul McLeary writes. A Pentagon official told reporters on Monday that the Islamic State is “no longer the dominant force” in about 5,000 to 6,000 square miles of territory that they once held in northern and western Iraq. But the official also nodded to a more grim reality — that gains in Iraq by government forces are pretty much offset by gains the extremists are making in Syria.
Money train. But it all ain’t about the fighting in Iraq. Abadi will meet on Thursday with officials from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank this week, along with Citibank and Deutsche Bank in order to get his country’s $22 billion budget deficit in order. Oil revenue has plummeted, leaving the Baghdad government a bit hard up.
Things are happening outside of Iraq? Hear the story about the guy who at the last minute prevented Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from ruining the positive headlines generated by the meeting between President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro at last week’s Summit of the Americas meeting in Panama. Scoop by FP’s John Hudson.
Red Siren: Hard on the heels of the al Shabab attack on a Kenyan university that slaughtered over 140 students, eight people were killed on Tuesday in an attack on a government office complex in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu. The AP reports this morning that police have managed to secure the ministry of higher education building “after a suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle at the gate of the office complex, opening the way for gunmen to enter.”
Counting votes, twice. Sudan’s three-day long national election is already a corrupt mess, says FP’s Justine Drennan, so much so that many international bodies have declined to even monitor the election. This is leaving a black hole in the world’s knowledge of what is actually happening — so why is the African Union being criticized for showing up to document the mess?
Who’s Where When
10:00 a.m. The Center for Strategic & International Studies hosts a panel on “The Future of Vertical Lift in Integrated Air-Marine Operations.” 10:25 p.m. President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. 2:00 p.m. The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East holds a hearing on Yemen. 2:15 p.m. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee could vote today on a bill that would require congressional review for a nuclear deal with Iran. 3:30pm Defense Secretary Ash Carter hosts and honor cordon at the Pentagon to welcome Iraqi Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obaidi.
The Hill: A Department of Defense official called the most recent Russian intercept of a U.S. military plane “sloppy airmanship.”
The Washington Post’s Karoun Demirjian: “Russia revived a deal Monday to send an advanced air-defense system to Iran, bucking U.S. objections and potentially altering the strategic balance in the Middle East.”
Deutsche Welle: “Germany’s foreign minister has urged Russia and Ukraine to move forward with the terms of the Minsk ceasefire, ahead of a key meeting in Berlin. He rejected opposition calls to reinstate Russia in what’s now the G-7.”
Associated Press: A top Hezbollah official blasted Saudi Arabia over their air war in Yemen, telling the AP that “what happened in Yemen is a crime that cannot be ignored. … Saudi Arabia is committing genocide in Yemen, we cannot be silent about that.”
Reuters: Russia’s stance on a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution up for a vote on Tuesday to blacklist the son of Yemen’s former president and a Houthi leader and effectively impose an arms embargo on the rebels who rule most of the country is still unclear.
New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick: As Libya continues to fall apart, some leaders are finally tiring of the bloodshed. “It is the realization that Libya is in danger,” said Fathi Bashaagha, leader of a pro-unity faction in Misrata. “Nobody can win. We have only one way we can survive, and that is a unity government.”
ABC News’ Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross: “ The FBI is investigating a former top military aide to three U.S. presidents and his firm over allegations it bilked foreign investors out of millions of dollars by touting his White House ties and making promises of quick U.S. Green Cards to raise funds for a giant hotel complex, ABC News has learned.”
Reuters’s Jeremy Wagstaff: “Hackers, most likely from China, have been spying on governments and businesses in Southeast Asia and India uninterrupted for a decade, researchers at internet security company FireEye Inc. said.”
AFP: Global police organization Interpol yesterday formally opened a new office in Singapore that will provide additional support to law enforcers and boost the fight against internet-based criminal activities.
The Hill’s Elise Viebeck: “Israel’s military is considering combining its offensive and defensive cyber activities into one entity with wide-ranging authority to conduct cyberwarfare, according to a report.”
Reuters’s Kanupriya Kapoor and Randy Fabi: “Indonesia wants to hold regular military exercises with the United States near the sparsely populated Natuna archipelago, an area of the South China Sea near China’s claims, a navy spokesman said on Monday.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Alastair Gale on a public disagreement between Washington and Seoul over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities: “South Korea’s vice defense minister on Monday dismissed an assessment from a senior U.S. military official that North Korea is able to mount a nuclear weapon on a missile that could threaten the U.S. mainland.”
Yonhap News’ Oh Seok-min: “South Korea on Tuesday announced the start of the official bidding for a refueling aerial tanker project worth 1.48 trillion won (US$1.26 billion), with three foreign major defense firms among the candidates.”