National Security Brief: January 5, 2012

— Taking on budget tightening measures, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to announce today a new military strategy that will “downsize the Pentagon, pivot from expensive ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and refocus on threats from China while not ignoring the threat of Iran.”

— The document suggests downsizing the Army to 490,000 soldiers and “will call for a greater shift toward Asia in military planning.” The plan also “calls on the military to invest in weaponry to overcome efforts by potential adversaries such as China to use long-range missiles and sophisticated radar to keep U.S. forces at bay.”

— A deal to unify two Syrian opposition groups fell apart because of the agreement’s resistance to foreign intervention, which activists inside the country reportedly objected to.

— Explosions in Baghdad killed dozens of Shiites in the Sadr City slums and the Kadhimiya neighborhood, along with explosions in Iraq’s Shia-dominated South that killed 30 at a pilgrimage site.


— Iran is mounting an aggressive campaign in Afghanistan to fuel anti-American sentiment to “convince Afghan leaders that a robust, long-term security partnership with Washington would be counterproductive.”

— Egypt’s Islamist Muslims Brotherhood, after the final day of last-round voting for the parliament, is poised to dominate the country’s new democratic structures, taking the lead in drafting a new constitution that is meant to usher out transitional military rule.

— Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh now says he will remain in the country indefinitely, casting fresh doubts about his seriousness with regard to an Arab League deal brokered to hasten his departure from power.  — More than 1,000 people have been killed in the past several months in South Sudan in clashes between rival ethnic groups. The U.N. has also received “alarming” reports of malnutrition in two Sudanese border states where the army is fighting insurgents.