National Security Brief: March 15, 2012

— Afghan President Hamid Karzai said today that international troops should pull back from rural areas and villages to main bases and Afghan troops should take the lead responsibility for countrywide security beginning next year, a year ahead of the current target date.

— The Afghan Taliban suspended talks with the U.S. and cancelled the planned opening of a political office in Doha due to Washington’s alleged “alternating and ever changing position,” said a statement from the group.

— The U.S. solider suspected of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan was flown to Kuwait yesterday. Afghan lawmakers expressed anger at the move, saying Kabul should not sign a strategic partnership agreement with Washington unless the suspect faces justice in Afghanistan.

— Former Bush administration national security adviser Stephen Hadley warned against an attack on Iran. “If something needs to be done, it is not military action,” said Hadley. “There’s a wide spectrum between sheer diplomacy and military action.”

— Fighting in the town of Idlib, Syria, drove about 1,000 refugees across the border into Turkey in a 24 hour period, part of a wider pattern that’s seen 230,000 Syrians displaced, including about 30,000 abroad, according to U.N. statistics.

— Despite voting for a bill to roll back the U.S. government’s budget deficit, House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) now says he wants to undo the parts of the bill dealing with defense spending.

— After a long trial, the International Criminal Court, in its first conviction, found Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga guilty of using child soldiers in his rebel group.

A dramatic rise in bomb attacks in Nigeria, Kenya and Somalia has coincided with al Qaeda affiliated groups in sub-Saharan Africa using more sophisticated explosive devices says the Pentagon’s improvised explosive devices (IED) unit.