National Security Brief: November 22, 2011

— President Obama said yesterday that he would veto any bill that seeks to shield the Pentagon from the $600 billion in military spending trigger cuts now that the super committee has failed.

— British Foreign Secretary William Hague met with a Syrian opposition council as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged dictator Bashar al-Assad to step down as violence escalated against protesters and, increasingly, rebellious members of the army.

— With at least 33 protesters dead in Cairo, clashes between government security forces and demonstrators asking the military junta to make a quicker transition to democracy casted doubts on the viability of upcoming parliamentary elections.

— The Pakistani Taliban, a militant group responsible for an insurgency within the country’s borders, said it had reached a ceasefire with the government, lending credence to reports this week that the two were in peace talks.

— Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, warned yesterday that violence there will probably increase after U.S. troops withdraw. “As we leave, we can expect to see some turbulence in security initially, and that’s because you’ll see various elements try to increase their freedom of movement and freedom of action,” he said.

— An independent report on Bahrain’s handling of pro-democracy protests is expected to be released on Wednesday but the government is already admitting it used “excessive force and mistreat[ed] detainees” according to a statement sent to Reuters.  — The Pentagon is preparing to submit an arms sale of 600 satellite-guided bunker-buster bombs to the United Arab Emirates for congressional review, a move that will be interpreted as a strong message to Iran about its nuclear program.  — The U.S., U.K., Canada, France and Italy offered support for a new round of sanctions against Iran’s financial sector but the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the move as “unacceptable and contradictory to international law.”