National Security Brief: June 5, 2011

— U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey said this weekend that the United States remains open to keeping thousands of American troops in Iraq beyond the end of the year if the Iraqi government asks.

— Insurgents in Iraq detonated a car bomb in the parking lot of a government building just north of Baghdad today and set off another bomb as civilians and security forces gathered to help the victims. The bombs killed at least 35 people and wounded 47.

— National militaries around the world are increasing their reliance on unmanned ariel vehicles, as “[m]ore than 50 countries have purchased surveillance drones, and many have started in-country development programs for armed versions.”

— Canadian forces formally handed over their Kandahar battlefield to U.S. forces, marking one of the last rituals in Canada’s departure from combat mission in Afghanistan.


— The Wall Street Journal reports: “Western companies including Cisco Systems Inc. are poised to help build an ambitious new surveillance project in China — a citywide network of as many as 500,000 cameras that officials say will prevent crime but that human-rights advocates warn could target political dissent.”

— Syrian forces swept into the city of Hama yesterday, raiding houses and hunting down anti-government activists. President Bashar al-Assad dismissed the city’s governor this weekend “in apparent political payback after hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the largest demonstration yet against Assad’s authoritarian rule.”

— A top Palestinian official reports that Russia will support a bid to seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations this fall.

— New intelligence indicates that Pakistan’s spy agency ordered the killing of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad, according to two senior Obama administration officials. Shahzad had written about the infiltration of militants into the country’s military.