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Early Bird

Kerry in Saudi Arabia, Syria Rebels Set Talk Preconditions, Snowden Seeks Clemency

November 4, 2013

EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, a morning assembly of the best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage from around the Web. Subscribe here. Got a tip? Email us at earlybird@nationaljournal.com.

PERSIAN GULF COUNTRIES BOOST AID TO SYRIAN REBELS
(The Washington Post; Karen DeYoung, Bob Woodward)
Persian Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, are moving to strengthen their military support for Syrian rebels and develop policy options independent from the United States.

KERRY LANDS IN SAUDI TO EASE TENSIONS OVER SYRIA, IRAN
(Agence France-Presse; Jo Biddle)
United States Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia hoping to repair ties with America's longstanding ally, which have frayed over the Syrian conflict and U.S. outreach to Iran.

 

KERRY: U.S. WON'T ALLOW ATTACKS ON MIDEAST PARTNERS
(Associated Press; Matthew Lee) 
Kerry, in an apparent warning to Iran, tried to reassure America's Arab friends on Sunday that the United States will not allow them to be attacked "from outside." 

SYRIAN OPPOSITION LAYS PRECONDITIONS FOR PEACE TALKS
(Reuters; Yasmine Saleh, Ayman Samir)
The Syrian opposition set terms on Sunday for attending peace talks to end the Syrian civil war, in a move that throws the proposed conference into further confusion after the international envoy said there should be no preconditions.

DEPOSED EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT MORSI ARRIVES FOR TRIAL
(The New York Times; David Kirkpatrick)
The trial is Morsi's first public appearance since his removal from office on July 3, and, in a dizzying turn for Egypt, the second criminal trial of a former head of state in less than three years. 

HOUSE, SENATE INTEL CHAIRS VOICE CONCERNS ABOUT NSA EAVESDROPPING
(The Washington Post; Holly Yeager)
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., suggested that he didn't believe recent reports that President Obama was unaware that the U.S. had been monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone for more than a decade.

WHITE HOUSE, LAWMAKERS: NO CLEMENCY FOR SNOWDEN
(Associated Press; Kimberly Dozier)
The White House and the leaders of the intelligence committee in Congress are rejecting National Security Agency-contractor Edward Snowden's plea for clemency.

EGYPT

KERRY IN CAIRO: EGYPT AID SUSPENSION 'NOT A PUNISHMENT'
(The Washington Post; Karen DeYoung)
In public comments surrounding meetings with Egyptian military leader Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and the leaders of an interim military-appointed civilian government, Kerry sought to balance the long-term U.S. commitment to Egypt with what he described as temporary concerns about human and civil rights.

KERRY SEES SIGNS THAT EGYPT IS ON PATH TO DEMOCRACY
(The New York Times; Michael Gordon)
In the highest-level American visit since the Egyptian military removed President Mohamed Morsi from power, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that Egypt appeared to be on a path toward democracy and emphasized that the Obama administration wanted to improve relations.

MORSI TO GO ON TRIAL AS EGYPT STRUGGLES FOR DEMOCRACY
(Reuters; Michael Georgy)
Egypt's first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, goes on trial on Monday under a security crackdown that has devastated his Muslim Brotherhood movement.

AS MORSI TRIAL NEARS, MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD'S ROOTS HOLD TIGHT
(Los Angeles Times; Laura King)
The Middle East's oldest Islamist movement, founded in 1928, has sunk deep roots through the decades despite being long repressed. And the current drive to eradicate the Brotherhood is proving a sapping endeavor for the country's military-backed interim administration.

PAKISTAN

PAKISTANI TALIBAN GATHER TO SELECT SUCCESSOR
(The New York Times; Declan Walsh, Ismail Khan, Salman Masood)
Pakistani Taliban commanders met Saturday to choose a successor to Hakimullah Mehsud, their leader who was killed Friday in an American drone strike.

IN PAKISTAN, DRONE STRIKES TURN A VILLAIN INTO A VICTIM 
(The New York Times; Declan Walsh)
After the death of Hakimullah Mehsud, it seems Pakistani hearts have grown fonder.

REVENGE A CONCERN AFTER DRONE KILLING OF PAKISTANI TALIBAN LEADER
(Los Angeles Times; Aoun Sahi, Mark Magnier)
Pakistani security forces were on high alert Saturday amid concerns of revenge attacks after the killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a U.S. drone missile strike.

MILITANT'S DEATH BRINGS LITTLE JOY IN PAKISTAN
(Associated Press; Rebecca Santana)
The Pakistani Taliban leader killed in a recent U.S. drone strike was behind hotel bombings, assaults on political rallies, beheadings of policemen and suicide attacks on soldiers. But his death elicited little joy in the country where he wreaked most of his havoc and instead stirred widespread anger and suspicion.

SYRIA

SYRIA: FOREIGN JIHADIS RESPONSIBLE FOR POLIO
(Associated Press; Albert Aji)
A Syrian government minister said Sunday that foreign fighters who have come to the country to wage jihad are responsible for the outbreak of polio in the rebel-controlled north.

REBELS LOSE GROUND TO ASSAD FORCES; FREE SYRIAN ARMY OFFICIAL AKAIDI RESIGNS
(The Washington Post; Liz Sly)
Col. Abdul Jabbar Akaidi, one of the chief recipients of what little American aid has been provided to the rebels, said he was standing down to protest the rebel bickering, which he blamed for the capture on Friday by Assad loyalists of the strategic town of Safira, southeast of the key city of Aleppo.

RADICALISATION IN SYRIA POSES GROWING THREAT TO EUROPE, SAYS TURKISH LEADER
(The Guardian; Simon Tisdall)
The Syrian nation is dying as an indifferent world looks on, and the territory it occupies risks becoming 'Afghanistan on the shores of the Mediterranean,' the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, said.

AFGHANISTAN

THAT OTHER BIG AFGHAN CRISIS, THE GROWING ARMY OF ADDICTS
(The New York Times; Azam Ahmed)
Long the global leader in opium production, Afghanistan has now also become one of the world's most addicted societies.

FIGHTING ALONE, AFGHANS SAID TO HOLD TALIBAN BACK
(Associated Press; Patrick Quinn)
The Taliban failed to capture any ground from Afghan security forces fighting for the first time without foreign firepower this fighting season, U.S. officials say, but the insurgents killed scores of soldiers, police and civilians in their campaign to weaken the government.

IRAN

KHAMENEI TELLS IRAN'S HARDLINERS NOT TO UNDERMINE NUCLEAR TALKS
(Reuters; Yeganeh Torbati)
Iran's supreme leader gave strong backing on Sunday to his president's push for nuclear negotiations, warning hardliners not to accuse Hassan Rouhani of compromising with the old enemy America.

IN TEHRAN, 'DEATH TO AMERICA' STILL RINGS 34 YEARS LATER
(The Washington Post; Jason Rezaian)
Despite recent indications of a thaw in relations between Washington and Tehran, Iran is going ahead with a 34-year-old November ritual: anti-U.S. demonstrations to commemorate the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

LAX SHOOTING

SHOOTING RENEWS DEBATE ON ARMED OFFICERS
(Wall Street Journal; Andy Pasztor, Jack Nicas, William Harless)
Over the weekend, the head of the union representing some 45,000 airport screeners of the Transportation Security Administration called on the agency to give weapons to certain employees and assign these personnel to checkpoints, though some experts said that raised concerns about proper weapons training. 

GUNMAN TOLD POLICE HE ACTED ALONE IN LAX SHOOTING
(Associated Press; Tami Abdollah)
The 23-year-old gunman charged in a deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport told authorities he acted alone and had been dropped off at the airport by a friend.

CONGRESSMAN MICHAEL MCCAUL: SUSPECTED L.A. AIRPORT GUNMAN PLANNED 'SUICIDE MISSION'
(Reuters; Jonathan Allen)
The suspected gunman in last week's deadly attack at Los Angeles International Airport wrote a note saying he intended to die after killing at least one security officer, the chairman of a key U.S. security committee said on Sunday.

INDUSTRY

INTERVIEW: MIKE PETTERS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HUNTINGTON INGALLS INDUSTRIES
(Defense News; Christopher Cavas)
Mike Petters has transformed his company from a division of Northrop Grumman to a publicly owned, self-sustaining corporate entity that is the largest military shipbuilder in the US.

NAVY

NAVY CHRISTENS NEW ATTACK SUBMARINE NORTH DAKOTA
(Associated Press)
The Navy on Saturday christened its newest attack submarine, a $2.6 billion vessel named North Dakota that can launch cruise missiles, deliver special operations forces commandos and carry out surveillance over land and sea.

NAVY SECRETS BOUGHT WITH PROSTITUTES, BRIBES
(Associated Press)
Prosecutors in court papers say Leonard Francis worked his connections to obtain military secrets by arranging prostitutes, Lady Gaga tickets and other bribes for a U.S. commander, in a scandal reverberating across the Navy.

RESERVE HOPES GAMES CAN HELP PLOT THE FUTURE
(Navy Times; Sam Fellman)
The Navy is launching an online game Nov. 4 in which thousands of sailors and Navy employees can develop solutions about how to match the Reserve's training and missions to an era of declining budgets.

ARMY

TRADOC SEEKS INFANTRY INPUT ON WOMEN IN COMBAT
(Military Times; Antonieta Rico)
Training and Doctrine Command is asking infantrymen to share their views as part of the Army's assessment of integrating women into currently closed combat arms military occupational specialties, such as 11 series.

WEST POINT HOSTS FIRST WEDDING BETWEEN 2 MEN
(Associated Press)
Two West Point graduates were married Saturday in the military academy's first wedding between two men.

AIR FORCE

PENTAGON TOILS TO BUILD A BOMBER ON A BUDGET
(Wall Street Journal; Julian Barnes) 
The plane of the future, dubbed the "Long-Range Strike Bomber," is the first weapon system to be designed in the new age of military austerity.

LONGEST-SERVING CIVILIAN TO RETIRE AFTER 70 YEARS
(Air Force Times; Kristin Davis)
Dorothy Rowe, 88, went to work as a clerk typist at the Columbus Army Depot in Ohio in 1943, two years before World War II ended and four years before the birth of the modern-day Air Force.

AFRICA

TWO FRENCH JOURNALISTS SLAIN IN NORTH MALI
(The Wall Street Journal; Christina Passariello, Drew Hinshaw)
Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were reporting in Kidal, a northern desert city that has remained a stronghold of separatists and insurgents despite a French-led military intervention aimed at restoring government control in the area.

SUSPECTED MILITANTS ATTACK WEDDING CONVOY
(Associated Press; Ibrahim Abdulaziz)
Suspected Islamic militants attacked a wedding convoy in northeast Nigeria and killed more than 30 people, including the groom, a state government spokesman said Sunday.

ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

TALK TO IRAN, IT WORKS
(New York Times, Former Amb. Ryan Crocker) 
Talks with Iran have succeeded in the past -- and they can succeed again.

CONGRESS CAN HELP ON IRAN
(New York Times; Editorial Board)
It is crucial that Congress work constructively with President Obama as he tries to lead the way in negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran. 

HOW THE WHITE HOUSE CAN GET AROUND CONGRESS ON IRAN
(National Journal; Sara Sorcher)
It's important to remember that the White House, as the primary arbiter of foreign policy, has avenues to offer relief to the Islamic Republic by going over the heads of lawmakers who might stand in its way.

NO MORSEL TOO MINISCULE FOR ALL-CONSUMING NSA
(The New York Times; Scott Shane)
If secrecy can no longer be taken for granted, when does the political risk of eavesdropping overseas outweigh its intelligence benefits?

TROUBLING DISCLOSURES ARE LIKELY TO CHANGE HOW THE NSA DOES ITS SPYING
(Los Angeles Times; Ken Dilanian, Jessica Guynn)
Revelations about National Security Agency snooping on foreign allies and domestic tech giants is expected to lead to new limits on American spying.

WHY AMERICA SPIES ON ITS FRIENDS
(National Journal; Michael Hirsh)
Why monitoring "foreign-leadership intentions" is a "hardy perennial" in U.S. espionage practice, as National Intelligence Director James Clapper put it during congressional hearings this week. And why most of what is done today, one way or another, is likely to go on.

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National Journal's Early Bird is not produced by or officially sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Defense. It was created to serve the defense community upon the Pentagon's announcement, on Nov. 1, 2013, of its decision to discontinue the much-beloved Early Bird news report.

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