National Security Brief: June 20, 2011

Only a small amount of Taliban fighters, and mostly from the quieter North, have joined a well-financed NATO effort to peel off commanders and their fighters from the Afghan insurgency.

High ranking officials in the Obama administration say that drone strikes and other covert operations have crippled Al Qaeda’s network in Pakistan. The administration’s confidence about Al Qaeda’s declining influence comes as the White House draws closer to a critical decision about how to withdraw forces from Afghanistan.

A high-ranking Syrian Baath Party official told the Los Angeles Times that an impending proposal “to amend Syria’s constitution would end the ruling Baath Party’s monopoly on political power while retaining its central role.”

Turkey’s posture toward Syria grew again more aggressive when a top Turkish official called on Syrian President Basher al Assad to implement meaningful reforms within a week.


The United States has launched a multibillion-dollar effort to upgrade the Iraq army’s weapons capabilities ahead of the scheduled withdrawal of the remaining U.S. troops by Dec. 31. “Among growing shipments of American-made weapons to Iraq are M1A1 Abrams tanks, M113 armored personnel carriers and patrol boats.”

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said that the number of refugees fleeing conflicts and wars is at a 15-year high, and that rich countries need to do more to alleviate the burden on developing ones.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the World Jewish Congress’s Board of Governors that the expected UN vote on Palestinian statehood is “important but not so important,” while issuing a warning about Iran’s nuclear program. “The international community has forgotten about the Iranian issue and their desire to achieve nuclear capability,” he said.

Jon Huntsman is facing scrutiny from an anti-Iran nuclear watchdog group over his family company’s Tehran based subsidiary. The company sold polyuretheane in Iran, a material that the watchdog group claims could be used in solid fuel for missiles.