Pentagon Says Afghan Forces Still Need Assistance
Elizabeth Bumiller, New York Times – December 10, 2012
As President Obama considers how quickly to withdraw the remaining 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan and turn over the war to Afghan security forces, a bleak new Pentagon report has found that only one of the Afghan National Army’s 23 brigades is able to operate independently without air or other military support from the United States and NATO partners.
Taliban say they will attend meeting in France on Afghanistan, but won’t talk about peace
AP, Washington Post – December 10, 2012
The Taliban will attend a meeting in France to talk about Afghanistan’s future but will not discuss peace and reconciliation, the militant group’s spokesman said Monday.
Mali’s PM Resigns After Being Arrested by Junta
Baba Ahmed and Rukmini Callmachi, AP – December 11, 2012
Soldiers arrested Mali’s prime minister and ordered him to resign, showing that the military is still the real power in the capital of this large West Africa country even though soldiers made a show of returning control back to civilian leaders several months after launching a coup in March.
Georgia’s Nuclear Black Market
Desmond Butler, Huffington Post – December 10, 2012
“Real buyers are rare in nuclear smuggling cases, and raise real risks,” said nuclear nonproliferation specialist Matthew Bunn, who runs Harvard’s Project on Managing the Atom. “They suggest someone is actively seeking to buy material for a clandestine bomb.”
Panetta: Syria chemical weapons intelligence has “leveled off”
Tucker Reals, CBS News – December 11, 2012
“We haven’t seen anything new indicating any aggressive steps to move forward in that way,” Panetta told reporters during a flight to Kuwait, adding that U.S. officials “continue to monitor it very closely and we continue to make clear to them that they should not under any means make use of these chemical weapons against their own population. That would produce serious consequences.”
Syria’s Assad Will Use Chemical Weapons, Says Former General, Now Defector
Alexander Marquardt, ABC News – December 10, 2012
“The regime started to fall and deteriorate. It’s coming to its end,” said retired Major General Adnan Sillou in an interview in a hotel near Antakya, on Turkey’s southern border with Syria. “It’s highly possible that he’ll start using [chemical weapons] to kill his own people because this regime is a killer.”
US designates Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra front a ‘terrorist’ group at lightning speed
Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor – December 10, 2012
The State Department says Jabhat al-Nusra (or the “Nusra Front”) is essentially a wing of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the jihadi group that flourished in Anbar Province after the US invaded to topple the Baathist regime of secular dictator Saddam Hussein. During the Iraq war, Sunni Arab tribesmen living along the Euphrates in eastern Syria flocked to fight with the friends and relatives in the towns along the Euphrates river in Anbar Province.
Cyber Warfare: Hype and fear
The Economist – December 8, 2012
Political and military leaders miss no chance to declare that cyberwar is already upon us. America’s defence secretary, Leon Panetta, talks of a “cyber-Pearl Harbour”. A senior official says privately that a cyber-attack on America that “would make 9/11 look like a tea party” is only a matter of time.
Is Xi Jinping Changing Chinese Nuclear Weapons Policy?
Greg Kulacki, Union of Concern Scientists – December 8, 2012
Speaking for himself, Wang compared China’s nuclear deterrent to that of the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, claiming that the experience of multiple crises between the two nuclear powers “shows that strategic deterrence is an important means of preserving the peace under nuclear conditions.”
Iran’s nuclear programme: the holy grail of the intelligence world
Julian Borger, The Guardian – December 10, 2012
It is the world’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that draws the world’s international agencies. Its quarterly board meetings are attended by top security officials and nuclear scientists from around the world, including Iran, and the spies follow them to Vienna. The facts of the Iran’s nuclear programme are the holy grail of the intelligence world. The existence and extent of any covert weapons activity – suspected in the west, denied in Tehran – could determine whether the world goes to war again in the Middle East.
Iran says it has decoded all data from a CIA spy drone captured last year
AP – December 10, 2012
Hajizadeh said Iran had captured the drone and decoded its data without any assistance, including from its allies China and Russia. Iran has said it would reverse-engineer the drone and build its own version.