National Security Daily Brief: May 31, 2011

Editor’s note: Welcome to the new ThinkProgress page dedicated solely to national security and foreign policy issues. We’ll start the day every morning with a round up of the day’s top news (see below) and from then on, we’ll provide breaking news and analysis on areas ranging from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, to general foreign policy debates taking place on the Hill, in the White House or in the media. So be sure to put us your bookmarks or RSS feeds and follow us on Twitter: @TP_Security. Enjoy!

President Obama nominated Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and promoted Gen. Ray Odierno to replace him as Army chief of staff.

The torture and death of a 13-year-old Syrian boy, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, “has rapidly emerged as the new symbol of the protest movement in Syria.”

A new International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran’s nuclear program describes a “possible military dimension.” The report lists concerns about “past or current” nuclear activities which have gone unreported.


Al-Jazeera footage appears to show Western special forces in Libya talking with rebels in Dafniya, west of Misrata. Other reports have emerged of British SAS soldiers acting as spotters for NATO planes.

The general in charge of British soldiers in Afghanistan warned that a drawdown of troop levels in Afghanistan could reverse the gains made by last year’s US “surge.”

Two unnamed U.S. officials and a “diplomat from an allied nation” told the Washington Post that Iran has stepped up its direct involvement in suppressing a revolt in Syria.

More than a 100 military officers, including five generals, have reportedly defected from Muammar Qaddafi, saying they could not abide by Gaddafi’s decision to aggressively target Libyan civilians in the country’s civil war.

Heavy fighting resumed today in Yemen’s capital between government troops and followers of the country’s most powerful tribal leader, ending a brief cease-fire and again raising the prospect that Yemen’s political crisis could veer into civil war.