The Cable

Situation Report: What happened to the Cuban Revolution; What $12B a year buys you; Day One of Baghdad’s trip to Washington; and more

By Paul McLeary and Sabine Muscat Here comes trouble. Day One of the Iraqi leadership’s visit to Washington is in the books, and so far it’s been pretty much free of drama (and big announcements). Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has met with President Barack Obama, the U.S. and Iraqi defense chiefs have met, and there’s ...

By Paul McLeary and Sabine Muscat

Here comes trouble. Day One of the Iraqi leadership’s visit to Washington is in the books, and so far it’s been pretty much free of drama (and big announcements). Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has met with President Barack Obama, the U.S. and Iraqi defense chiefs have met, and there’s been some happy talk about Iraqi “neighbors” (Read: Iran) respecting Iraqi sovereignty, reports FP’s Paul McLeary. Next up: Some less happy talks with international lenders about the $22 billion Iraqi budget deficit.

Little Mogadishu, under siege. The Nairobi neighborhood of Eastleigh is bursting at the seams with 350,000 largely Somali residents who are “caught between an al-Shabab that is now targeting Muslims and Christians alike, and an emboldened Kenyan security apparatus willing to go to extreme measures in an attempt to root out radical elements in Somali communities like this” writes FP’s Amanda Sperber.

Too big to fail. The Department of Defense preparing to spend more than $12 billion a year for the next two decades on an airplane that won’t be able to take the same hits on the battlefield as the U.S. Air Force’s current 40-year old A-10 fighter. The trouble-plagued F-35 will also “be handicapped by limits on how many weapons they can carry, flying at night and spotting targets as well as how long they can remain” on the battlefield providing air support to ground troops, reports Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio.

Staying quiet. The U.S. is glossing over some serious and troubling human rights abuses being carried out by its allies of convenience in Central Asia, writes FP’s Reid Standish, in order to avoid making waves in pushing forward with its security agenda in the region. American policy is “ripe with contradiction” Luca Anceschi, a Central Asia expert at the University of Glasgow, told FP. “A security focus means supporting regimes with horrible human rights records and autocratic pedigrees.”

Friends! Right? As the Obama administration begins the work of removing Cuba from the U.S. list of international sponsors of terrorism, what happened to the revolution that the Castro regime spent decades cultivating, ask FP’s David Francis and Elias Groll.

Can’t stop, won’t stop. For a guy who pretended that he couldn’t wait to get out of Washington and return to his northern California nut farm (you’ve heard him tell the “different kind of nut” joke), former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta sure comes back a lot. Tonight he’ll receive the Dwight  D. Eisenhower award from defense industry trade group National Defense Industrial Association for a lifetime of government service.

Welcome to another sunny day at the Situation Report, where we’ll happily accept tips, ideas, and news bits. Reach out to or @paulmcleary.

Who’s Where When

10:25 a.m. President Barack Obama meets with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, President Alpha Condé of Guinea, and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone.

Smart Takes, Long Takes

The Diplomat’s Franz-Stefan Gady on a study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments about the future of naval warfare: “Andrew Krepinevich, author of the study titled Maritime Competition In A Mature Precision-Strike Regime, concludes that the advent of long-range sensors and strike capabilities will impose severe restrictions on the freedom of maneuver of surface naval forces.”

All in? The Council on Foreign Relations has released a new report that proposes what it says is a “new approach” to address China’s military and economic expansion. In effect, Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill and Dr. Ashley J. Tellis say, the U.S. should spend big bucks on “capabilities and capacity specifically to defeat China’s emerging anti-access capabilities and permit successful U.S. power projection even against concerted opposition from Beijing.”

Islamic State

The BBC: “Islamic State (IS) has lost more than a quarter of its territory in Iraq since the US-led coalition air campaign began in August, a Pentagon spokesman says.”

The Hill’s Martin Matishak: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) says President Obama “is placing artificial constraints on our commanders” in Iraq, and should let them engage with Islamic State fighters. “We have troops there that could provide a lot more assistance to the Iraqi army if they were given the ability to do so.”


The New York Times’s Mohammed Ibrahim reports on a deadly bomb attack outside a government building in Mogadishu, Somalia, that left at least 19 dead.

Nigeria remembers the kidnapping of 200 school girls by Boko Haram one year ago, as CNN’s Don Melvin reports.

The U.N. has asked Kenya to reconsider its plans to close the Somali refugee camp in Dadaab which has become a recruitment center for the extremist group al-Shabab.

Ukraine/ Russia/ Nato

The Christian Science Monitor’s Michael Holz reports on new fighting in Ukraine.

CBC News: “Canada will join a training mission to help Ukraine’s military in its struggle against Russian-backed rebels, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday, following months of requests for assistance from Ukraine’s government.”

Reuters: “Germany’s defense minister said on Tuesday that nobody should underestimate NATO’s rapid response capacity, which has been ratcheted up in response to worries about Russia’s military ambitions after its actions in Ukraine.”

And Britain’s Royal Air Force is after the Russians again, reports Sky News: “RAF Typhoon jets have been scrambled after Russian military planes were identified flying close to UK airspace. The Ministry of Defence revealed the news hours after it emerged warships from Russia’s Northern Fleet entered the English Channel ahead of planned anti-aircraft and anti-submarine drills.”


The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that the revised U.S.-Japan defense guidelines will likely include  the defense of disputed islands: “Keeping in mind the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, near which Chinese government vessels have repeatedly intruded, the two governments will announce that Japan and the United States will collaborate in the event of emergencies on the remote islands.”

Yonhap News’ Lee Haye-ah: “South Korea and Japan held their first high-level security talks in more than five years Tuesday amid renewed tension over historical and territorial issues.”


The Washington Post’s Sudarsan Raghavan: “Hundreds of foreign militants are fleeing a months-long Pakistani military offensive and seeking sanctuary in Afghanistan, bolstering the ranks of Taliban factions and triggering one of the bloodiest starts to the spring fighting season in years, according to Afghan officials and analysts.”

Stars and Stripes’ Carlo Munoz: “Acting Defense Minister Sher Mohammed Karimi told Afghan lawmakers on Tuesday that government forces were making plans to retake Afghan army and police outposts in Badakhshan province, in northeastern Afghanistan, from the guerrillas.”


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