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July 25, 2014

Posts in "Foreign Policy"

July 24, 2014

Did Pakistan Let Haqqani Network Slip Away on Purpose? (Official Says “No”)

187654961 2 445x298 Did Pakistan Let Haqqani Network Slip Away on Purpose? (Official Says No)

Pakistani schoolchildren stand at the spot where Nasiruddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the feared militant Haqqani network, was assassinated at an Afghan bakery in the Bhara Kahu area on the outskirts of Islamabad on Nov. 11. AAMIR QURESHI (Aamir Quereshi AFP/Getty Images)

Leaders in Pakistan have declared it of late, both publicly and privately: The country is going after all militants, even the Haqqani network, an organization that U.S. military officials have deemed a de facto arm of the Pakistan intelligence agency ISI.

Some have raised doubts about whether that’s actually happening, though, pointing to evidence that Haqqani network militants have merely shifted elsewhere, with the complicity of Pakistan. A senior Pakistani official insisted Thursday that Pakistan wants the Haqqani network destroyed, but that to a certain degree it’s in the hands of Afghanistan, NATO and the United States. Full story

Key Senator Warns He Might Block Iraq Arms Sales Again

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Menendez arrives in the Capitol for a vote on April 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., feuded with the administration over a $6 billion sale of Apache helicopters to Iraq earlier this year, when he played a key role in blocking the deal for a while. On Thursday, he threatened that he might hold up potential future deals — but for a slightly different reason this time. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 11:07 a.m.
Foreign Policy, War

Gen. Odierno: Russia Stealing From Iran’s Playbook?

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno is suggesting the use of surrogates — like the kind Russia is leaning on in Ukraine — could be the future of warfare. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 9:20 a.m.
Army, Foreign Policy, War

July 23, 2014

State Department Official: ISIS Now ‘a Full-Blown Army’

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KHAZAIR, IRAQ — Iraqi families who fled recent fighting vs. ISIS near the city of Mosul prepare to sleep on the ground as they try to enter a temporary displacement camp but are blocked by Kurdish soldiers on July 3. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A State official offered a dire assessment Wednesday about the growing power of the group in Iraq that calls itself the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL): “It’s no longer a terrorist group,” said the department’s deputy assistant secretary of State for Iraq and Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. “It’s a full-blown army.”

Given that, asked the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, why didn’t the United States conduct drone strikes earlier? Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 11:16 a.m.
Drones, Foreign Policy, War

July 22, 2014

Catching Up With ISIS

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Sako speaks at a news conference in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on Tuesday. (Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

The airliner-crash tragedy in Ukraine and the fighting in Gaza over the past week have nudged aside what had been the biggest foreign policy story of the summer — the rise of the Islamic State (aka ISIS aka ISIL) in Iraq. The insurgent force is still causing its share of turmoil, though.

Full story

July 21, 2014

New Lawsuit, Legislation to Aid Iraqis, Afghans Who Helped U.S. in Wars

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Shaheen arrives for the Senate Democrats’ policy lunch on Tuesday, Feb. 25. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There were two developments Monday meant to ensure visas for Afghans and Iraqis who helped the United States in wars in those countries: 1., the announcement of a lawsuit filed by an Iraqi who served as a translator but has been waiting more than two years on his visa; and 2. the introduction of a bipartisan bill to boost the number of Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) available to Afghan civilians who served in a similar role. Full story

Kim Jong Un Now Mad About Video of Him (Mostly) Dancing Well

The supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, takes himself pretty seriously. But you would think he might be pleased by a video of his head super-imposed on a bunch of people who, for the most part, have some serious dance moves. Full story

Medal of Honor Recipient Ryan Pitts, 9/11 Commission, VA Secretary in the Week Ahead

Former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan J. Pitts will be at the White House on Monday to receive a Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama. His story is both heroic and a tale of missteps by superiors, as he fought to fend off a wave of insurgents in Afghanistan in a patrol base in the bloody Battle of Wanat, all while badly wounded by shrapnel himself. Obama is awarding more Medals of Honor to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than his predecessor, but the process has become slower.

The week’s offerings also include a confirmation hearing for a new leader at the Department of Veterans Affairs, a review of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 Commission report and discussions on the cyber threat, the shape of U.S. Combatant Commands, Iraq and the Navy budget. Full story

July 17, 2014

No U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Organization That Could Investigate Malaysia Airlines Crash (Video)

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A picture taken on July 17 shows a Malaysia Airlines closed counter at the Schiphol airport near Amsterdam after a Malaysian airliner crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine. The plane went missing with 239 passengers and crew on board.
(Olaf Kraak/AFP/Getty Images)

Updated 6:25 p.m. The United States has not sent an ambassador to the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization, which has, in the past, investigated air disasters like the one Thursday where a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet reportedly was shot down along the Ukraine/Russia border. The post is one of many nominations tied up on the Senate floor, with Republicans protesting a Democratic change to filibuster rules.

[Update: The nominee is now slated for a vote Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced on the floor late Thursday, via CQ Roll Call's Sarah Chacko.]

Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 1:25 p.m.
Foreign Policy

July 16, 2014

Senate Chops Request for New Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, White House Still Happy

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Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., whose Appropriations subcommittee scaled back the new counterterrorism partnership fund, arrives in the Capitol for a vote on June 24. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In a high-profile move earlier this year, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $5 billion for a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund that would be used to help other countries get better at fighting terrorist organizations. On Tuesday, a Senate panel agreed to give the administration less than half of what it sought. Yet the White House still welcomed this in an evening blog post. Full story

July 14, 2014

Can (or Should) the U.S. Train More Countries to Handle Their Own Threats?

450656810 445x263 Can (or Should) the U.S. Train More Countries to Handle Their Own Threats?

Army soldiers stand guard at a square in Bogota during the runoff presidential election on June 15. Colombians went to the polls in an election that had become a referendum on peace talks with leftist guerrillas, and reelected president Juan Manuel Santos. (Diana Sanchez/AFP/Getty Images)

War is expensive, and the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, has a default disinclination against both foreign military intervention and government spending. So, on Monday, Cato hosted a panel that asked whether a better option in a time of declining defense budgets would be training more countries to deal with their own insurgencies.

The answer? It depends. Full story

Killer Robots, Outer Space and Defense Spending Bill in Week Ahead

There are three hearings this week on the president’s war-related spending account budget request and two committee votes on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill. But, yes, killer robots and outer space are also on the agenda. Full story

July 10, 2014

Videos of Israel’s Iron Dome Intercepting Palestinian Rockets

Israel is claiming a high success rate — 90 percent — for its Iron Dome air defense system in the current fighting with Gaza. Others have doubts about its effectiveness, and there may already be a new Hamas missile threatening that success rate. Either way, the videos make for compelling viewing. Full story

July 9, 2014

Senate Panel Leaders Brutalize Administration on Russia: ‘I’m Embarrassed for Us’

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Menendez and Corker listen to testimony from Secretary of State John Kerry during an April Senate Foreign Relations hearing about the fiscal 2015 international affairs budget proposal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

To say that the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are getting impatient with the Obama administration regarding its threats of harsher sanctions against Russia over Ukraine might be an understatement. Sample quote from a hearing Wednesday: “Our country acting like such a paper tiger to the world on this and so many other fronts is doing incredible long-term damage to our nation.” Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 11:18 a.m.
Foreign Policy

A Senator’s Argument for Arming Syrian Rebels, After the ISIS Surge

casey002 031014 445x295 A Senators Argument for Arming Syrian Rebels, After the ISIS Surge

Casey talks with Caroline Wadhams of the Center for American Progress during a March discussion titled “Afghan Elections and the U.S. Role Beyond 2014.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Back in 2011, Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey was the first senator to say that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go. Much has changed since then. A rebellion against Assad has given rise to the group that now calls itself the Islamic State, and concerns have deepened about whether U.S. aid aimed at “good” Syrian rebels could end up in the wrong hands. Some have gone as far as to suggest that the United States has arrived at a common cause with Assad.

But Casey said now it is more important than ever to deliver arms and assistance to the Syrian rebels the United States can trust — and he’s also confident we can determine who exactly they are. Full story

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