National Security Brief: January 11, 2012

— Walking back an “incorrectly reported” quote from U.S. intelligence official describing “regime collapse” as a goal of U.S. sanctions against Iran, the Washington Post reports an intelligence official as saying the sanctions regime aims to “create hate and discontent at the street level so that the Iranian leaders realize that they need to change their ways.”

— Iran blames Israel for the death of a nuclear scientist after a motorcyclist placed a bomb won his car in Tehran.

— First Lady Michelle Obama will announce this afternoon at Virginia Commonwealth University an initiative aimed at training more civilian and military doctors to diagnose and treat post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, — “two of the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

— Syrian President Bashar al-Assad showed up at a pro-government rally in Damascus today, saying that the 10-month uprising against his regime was part of a “conspiracy.”


— U.S. drone missile strikes in Pakistan resumed after a nearly a two-month hiatus, killing at least three militants, according to local intelligence. Meanwhile, the “Memogate” scandal there deepened with the military warning of “grievous consequences” because of an accusation by the government that the army leader violated the constitution.

— Palestinian leaders raised “alarm bells to the world that Israel is killing any chance for the two-state solution” after the Israeli group Peace Now released a report that said settlement construction in the West Bank increased by 20 percent in 2011.

— Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert said the U.S. military won’t lose sight of the Middle East despite a renewed strategic focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

— The newly independent South Sudan faces multiple refugee crises and averting a humanitarian disaster will require increased international aid, says the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.