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National Security Brief: December 16, 2011

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq over, Iraqi tensions over the country’s future are coming to the fore, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki arguing against semi-autonomy for several Sunni provinces.

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) introduced legislation to impose a ten percent reduction on the federal workforce and using those savings to pay for the first year of defense cuts under sequestration.

Iranian Rear Adm. Ali Shamkhani says Iran will continue to target U.S. drones if American spy planes violate Iran’s airspace, but U.S. officials are rejecting Iranian claims of responsibility for bringing down an unmanned aircraft last week.

Pakistan’s top general, Ashfaq Kayani, ordered a probe of President Asif Ali Zardari, who is convalescing in Dubai, for his role in the “memogate” scandal where the president’s associates sought help to bolster civilian control over the state.

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Russia proposed a new UN resolution condemning the violence in Syria which, while criticized by the U.S. and other western powers as too mild, opens up the prospect of greater international coordination in condemning Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s use of violence against protesters.

Bahraini security forces dispersed hundreds of opposition protesters with tear gas and stun grenades during a visit by the U.S. State Department’s top human rights envoy.

A U.S. military investigation substantiated some of the charges of human rights abuses against Afghan militias and local police outlined by the group Human Rights Watch.

International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said the manner in which Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi was killed by rebels could constitute a war crime, adding that he’s “raising this concern to the national authorities” and expects them to investigate.