National Security Brief: December 5, 2011

— Syria has reportedly accepted an Arab League request to send observers to the country in an effort to end the 8-month crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. A foreign ministry spokesman said the foreign minister “responded positively” to the Arab League plan.

— Afghan president Hamid Karzai says Afghanistan’s army and police forces will requite at least $10 billion in annual economic assistance after the scheduled departure of foreign combat forces by the end of 2014.

— Many former Western intelligence officials believe that a blast that leveled an Iranian missile base was part of a covert war and set back Iran’s missile program by destroying research on the fast-launching solid-state fuel technology being developed at the base.

— Iranians claimed they had shot down an American drone over the weekend. U.S. officials acknowledged Sunday that a drone had been lost near the Iranian border, but they declined to say what kind of aircraft was missing.

— A McClatchy analysis found that the numbers of disabled veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the costs of caring for them are on course to rival that of the 1960s and ’70s conflict in Vietnam.

— U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Israelis and Palestinians in a speech on Friday to “get to the damn table.” “The problem right now is we can’t get them to the damn table to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences,” Panetta said.

— With a surging Communist Party in Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir’s Putin’s Russia United party suffered a set back at the polls this weekend, retaining at most only a slim majority in parliament that will curb some of the party’s bureaucratic powers just as the leader, the autocratic-tending Putin, seeks to retake the presidency from his successor.

— The U.S. is vacating a Pakistani air base used by American drones to target Taliban and al Qaeda militants in accordance with the Pakistan government’s demands retaliating for a U.S. airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The eviction will have little impact on the CIA’s drone program according to a senior defense official.