National Security Brief: June 3, 2011

Reuters has conflicting reports out this morning that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has either been killed or injured after the presidential palace was hit by shells early this morning. The BBC is reporting that Saleh was injured.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s legitimacy has “nearly run out.” “If he is not going to lead the reform, then he needs to get out of the way,” she said.

More than a dozen activists were arrested in Iraq days before the government faces a self-imposed deadline to show improvements in services and reforms. The arrests are seen by rights groups as an attempt to prevent the reform movement from gaining momentum.

After a march in Baghdad last week by loyalists of Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr, Iraq’s Sunni minority are expressing fears about the resurgence of the Shia firebrand and his militia.


China made diplomatic contact with Libyan rebels in a meeting in Qatar. The meeting indicates that Beijing wants to have an open line of communication with rebels even as it continues to urge for a political solution.

The House will vote today on two measures that are critical of President Obama’s decision to continue a U.S. role in NATO operations in Libya. Obama has been under attack for his decision not to seek Congressional authorization for U.S. participation in air strikes in Libya.

A report by a bipartisan commission to be released today found that reconstruction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan failed to take sustainability into account, opening up the possibility that much of the nearly $200 billion spent on the projects could be wasted if drastic steps are not taken. Amid warm words for China at a conference there this week, outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to announce an emboldened U.S. approach to Southeast Asia that will reportedly include more robust military ties with nations there in a bid to counter growing Chinese influence.