National Security Brief: November 28, 2011

— Even as Pakistan said it pleaded fruitlessly with NATO to call off strikes that killed 18 Pakistani soldiers just over the border with Afghanistan, Afghan officials said the strike was called in because Afghan and NATO forces were taking fire from over the border.

— Afghan president Hamid Karzai announced that his government would be taking over security responsibility for 18 new areas of Afghanistan, some of them contested by militants, in order to have the opportunity to train local forces alongside the U.S.-led coalition as it draws down its own presence.

— France is seeking international support for a proposal to establish “humanitarian corridors” in Syria to get aid to besieged areas of the country, where the government has turned its guns on protesters and armed insurgents demanding the ouster of President Bashar Assad.

— Syria’s economy minister called newly approved Arab League sanctions “a dangerous precedent” that will harm ordinary people more than the regime, as tens of thousands of government supporters marched in the capital and other cities to protest against the decision.

— After a week where demonstrators in a central Cairo square violently clashed with police forces, Egyptians lined up to vote in a historic election that will create a body to oversee the creation of a new constitution and transition to democracy.

— Despite the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year, U.S. ambassador James Jeffrey said yesterday that the United States will spend more than $6 billion in Iraq in 2012 on refugee programs and the State Department’s budget.

— A day after five online activists were sentenced to up to three years in prison for “insulting” the country’s rulers, the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced their pardon.

— Two months after announcing his intention to reclaim the Russian presidency, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accepted his party’s nomination for president on Sunday.