National Security Brief: March 28, 2012

— The White House is calling on international donors to pledge more money to pay the $4.1 billion annual budget for Afghanistan’s security forces after the scheduled departure of U.S. and coalition combat troops at the end of 2014.

— NATO commander Adm. James Stavridis said in an interview that Afghan forces will soon control areas that “encompass 75 percent of the population,” seeking to demonstrate gains in transitioning to Afghan control despite recent violence.

— Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro said at a CAP event yesterday that anti-piracy policies the Obama administration put in place has resulted in “a roughly 70 percent decline” in successful pirate attacks around the globe.   — Talks between Iran and and six major powers — the so-called P5+1 — on Tehran’s nuclear program are expected to start again on April 14 in Istanbul, a senior European Union diplomat told the Wall Street Journal.

— Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked a widely-supported bill imposing new Iran sanctions and tightening existing ones because Democrats pushing the bill refused to allow amendments, including Paul’s reaffirming the requirement that the executive branch consult the Congress to use force abroad.


— Syrian government forces continued military action against opposition strongholds on Wednesday despite President Bashar al-Assad’s acceptance of a peace plan requiring the army to return to its barracks.  — Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay said he and his North American counterparts at a meeting on security threats in Ottawa this week decided to develop a common assessment of threats facing the continent and to cooperate to address them.

— Shawn Henry, the FBI’s top cop, offered a grim appraisal of the nation’s efforts to keep computer hackers from plundering corporate data networks: “We’re not winning.” He added that the current public and private approach to fending off hackers is “unsustainable.’’

— Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has peacekeepers at the ready to send into Mali — which was recently suspended from the organization after a military coup there — and plans to send a delegation in the next two days demanding the restoration of democracy and constitutional order.