National Security Brief: December 1, 2011

— The Senate yesterday voted to end debate on the 2012 defense spending bill and passed an amendment that would order the Pentagon to find ways to gradually diminish payments it makes as reimbursement to Pakistan for its role in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

— Lawmakers also voted in favor of an amendment to the Senate’s annual defense bill, calling on the White House to draw up plans for an expedited pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

— Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signaled yesterday that he was open to the eventual return of U.S. troops to Iraq as trainers. But a National Security Council spokesperson said “the U.S. and Iraq will work together on security issues going forward,” Vietor says. “No U.S. troops [and] no Special Forces will be based in Iraq after this year.”

— Turkey and the European Union imposed a new round of sanctions on Syria amid the continuing crackdown on demonstrators there that will cause European oil companies to pull out of the country and likely stem its oil production and therefore revenues.

— While U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was too early to lift sanctions against Myanmar, where she just made an historic visit, the U.S. does plan on loosening restrictions on aid money to the impoverished nation ruled by a repressive but slowly-reforming military junta.

— Western and particularly U.S. companies that sell surveillance technology must get permits to sell their spyware in the West, but can freely sell the technologies to other countries without such restrictions, raising concerns that the companies are aiding repressive governments abroad.

— The White House notified Congress of a proposed $304 million arms sale of 4,900 guided bomb kits, including 600 BLU-109 2,000-pound Hard Target Penetrator bunker-buster bombs, to the United Arab Emirates.

— Italy summoned Iran’s envoy to the foreign ministry to express its “firm condemnation” of the raid on the U.K. embassy in Tehran while Germany, France, and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors to Iran.