National Security Brief: May 21, 2012

— NATO leaders are expected to endorse plans to hand over command of all combat missions in Afghanistan by mid-2013 and withdraw most of the 130,000 foreign troops by the end of 2014.

— President Obama refused to meet with his Pakistani counterpart at the NATO Summit in Chicago because the sides failed to reach a deal to reopen the Western militaries’ supply lines through Pakistan into Afghanistan, which remain closed since an American strike killed Pakistani soldiers in November.

— Despite objections from Russia, the NATO alliance has installed an interim ballistic missile defense shield in Europe, a first step towards the long-term goal of providing missile defense for all NATO European countries, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters on Sunday.

— U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder said yesterday that the Atlantic Alliance has no plans to intervene militarily in Syria. However, he added that NATO would “obviously take any requests of that nature seriously if it were to be made.”

— The Supreme Court will decide as early as today whether to take up constitutional challenges to the George W. Bush-era anti-terrorism laws involving wiretapping, email monitoring and Guantanamo prisoners.

— A cooperation office of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad announced that the Iraqi government purchased some American unmanned drone planes to help secure its southern oil platforms, where most of the country’s oil is shipped.

After the Syrian revolution spread this month to Tripoli in Lebanon, the country’s capitol Beirut saw fighting between pro- and anti-regime factions on Monday, with Lebanese press reporting that three people died and 20 were wounded.

— The New York Times reports that the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement late Sunday in Cairo that paves the way for elections and a new unity government for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.