National Security Brief: August 4, 2011

— Republican hawks and defense lobbyists are gearing up for a campaign on Capitol Hill against cutting military spending.

— In two recent statements, Taliban leaders have struck a more conciliatory tone and hinted that they may be willing to reverse their long-time position that a negotiated settlement to the war in Afghanistan could not happen while foreign troops remain in the country.

— The Financial Times reports that “the Obama administration is significantly hardening its tone against the Syrian regime and is preparing to explicitly call for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.”

— The White House unveiled a new strategy to combat domestic terrorism risks, approaching the issue by seeking Muslim allies, better controlling education information for law enforcement to avoid inaccurate materials that risk alienating American Muslims, and ensuring a focus on all sorts of domestic extremism, not just the Islamic variety.


— Seif al-Islam Qaddafi, Muammar Qaddafi’s son, says he is working to forge an alliance with radical Islamist groups among the Libyan rebels but a leading Islamist rebel denied any suggestion of an alliance.

— The famine in Somalia has killed more than 29,000 children under the age of five according to an official with USAID.  — Though Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, recent announcements from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Islamic Republic itself about advancing centrifuge programs are raising concerns that its nuclear program is proceeding apace.

— McAfee, an American cybersecurity company, reports that a “state actor” was behind a five year series of cyberattacks against governments, American corporations and various U.N. groups.