National Security Brief: October 17, 2011

— The Obama administration is pushing back on a report this weekend that it has abandoned plans to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq past 2011. Two officials said that no decision has been made.

— In light of heightened tensions amid the accusation that Iran laid a plan to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in Washington, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned that any actions against the Islamic Republic “will meet a decisive response from the Iranian nation.”

— Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said yesterday that covert operations to kill members of Iran’s Quds Force in response to the alleged assassination plot — as advocated Iraq surge architect ret. Gen. Jack Kean — “probably would escalate into war and the question is: Do we want to go to war with Iran at this time?”

— Rocket fire targeting American and Afghan soldiers near the border with Pakistan has risen sharply in the past six months, adding greater stress to the already disintegrating U.S.-Pakistan relationship.


— Arab foreign ministers stopped short of suspending Syria from the Arab League but urged the Syrian government and opposition to hold a dialogue within 15 days to negotiate an end to the violence.

— Smuggling networks along Syria’s border with Lebanon are expanding their business into arms dealing to supply political parties who seek the overthrow of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s government.

— The House Veterans Affairs Committee began an investigation into mortgage fraud against vets, where financial institutions allegedly made windfall profits by charging improper fees.  — The Kenyan army rolled into Somalia with tanks, trucks and helicopters this weekend to aid in the fight against the al Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabaab militia, becoming the latest army to dip its fingers into the anarchic East African country.