National Security Brief: September 7, 2011

— Top Obama administration officials denied yesterday that any decision has been made about keeping U.S. troops in Iraq past 2011. “No decision has been made with regards to the number of troops that will remain in Iraq,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. White House spokesman Jay Carney also said “no decisions on troop levels have been made.”

— Massoud Barzani, the leader of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region, publicly appealed for American forces to stay in Iraq, warning that if they withdraw sectarian violence may erupt.

— The Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby postponed a planned meet with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad as the Syrian military cracked down on the restive town of Homs, reportedly killing three.

— Diplomatic pressure on Syria mounted as U.S. Ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford wrote a fiery posting for the embassy’s Facebook page and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said Syria must take “bold and decisive measures before it’s too late.”


— Muammar Qaddafi is still in Libya and surrounded in a 40-mile radius area according to a spokesman for Tripoli’s new military council.

— NATO has temporarily stopped transferring detainees to a number of Afghan jails after an upcoming report documented accusations of torture and abuse.

— Panetta said last night on PBS that democratic revolution in Iran appears to be a matter of time. Host Charlie Rose asked if the Arab Spring might spread to non-Arab Iran and Panetta responded: “Absolutely.”

— Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey plans on beefing up its naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean as relations with Israel — which he called a “spoiled child” — deteriorate.