Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met at the White House yesterday to outline a new partnership (WashPost), weeks before the United States is set to complete its military withdrawal from Iraq after nine years of conflict.
Obama pledged U.S. civilian and military support for Iraq, and said his administration planned to sell a second installment of eighteen F-16 fighter plans to Iraq. While there will be no U.S. bases or troops stationed in Iraq after this month, Obama said U.S. military officials would continue to train Iraqi forces (WSJ).
In a message aimed at Iran, Obama warned Iraq's neighbors (al-Jazeera) not to undermine the country's sovereignty.
Differences between Iraq and the United States were on display during the leaders' joint White House appearance, particularly over the Syrian crackdown against anti-government protesters. Maliki refused to endorse Obama's demand (NYT) that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down.
CFR's Stephen Biddle says Iraqis are likely to muddle through on providing their own security following the U.S. drawdown at year's end.
This CFR Timeline offers an interactive slideshow detailing events since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
When the last U.S. troops leave on December 31, Iraqi forces will destroy Camp Ashraf, home to thousands of Iranian refugees, writes Geoffrey Robertson in Newsweek.
Night raids and mass arrests come as the United States prepares to leave Iraq, leading Western officials to question the country's course under Maliki, write The New York Times' Jack Healy, Tim Arango, and Michael S. Schmidt.
UN Puts Syria Death Toll Above 5,000
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay told the UN Security Council that the Syrian regime's nine-month crackdown on anti-government protesters (al-Jazeera) has killed over five thousand people. Syria's ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, said Pillay's claims were part of a "huge conspiracy" against Syria.
The Syrian crisis has entered its most dangerous stage, says this International Crisis Group policy brief. The international community and Syrian opposition have largely been ignoring issues that must be addressed, including ties between Syria and Lebanon and the militarization of the protest movement.
U.S. Probes China Cyber-Spying
U.S. intelligence agencies have identified a number of Chinese groups that have been cyber-spying on the United States, the majority of which are sponsored by the Chinese military (WSJ). Foreign governments, non-state actors, and criminal groups are targeting the digital networks of the United States with increasing frequency and sophistication. U.S. cybersecurity has made progress, but relies heavily on the private sector to secure infrastructure critical to national security, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
PHILIPPINES: Police arrested a former top election official, Benjamin Abalos, charged with aiding former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo with election rigging (al-Jazeera) in 2007.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
U.S. Freezes $700 Million to Pakistan
A U.S. House-Senate congressional panel froze $700 million in aid to Pakistan until it gives assurances about helping to fight the spread of improvised explosive devices (SANA) in the region, which are used by militants against NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.
As relations between Pakistan and the United States continue to fray, a senior U.S. official said drone strikes in Pakistan have been put on hold, according to a report by The Long War Journal.
Pakistan's stability is of great consequence to regional and international security. Examine the roots of its challenges, what it means for the region and the world, and explore some plausible futures for the country with this CFR Crisis Guide.
Gambian to Lead Hague Prosecution
At a meeting at the UN, Fatou Bensouda, a lawyer from Gambia, was chosen to succeed Luis Moreno-Ocampo as the International Criminal Court's new chief prosecutor (NYT).
MALI: Authorities arrested suspects linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (BBC), who allegedly kidnapped two Frenchman last month.
Canada to Withdraw from Kyoto Treaty
Canada announced on Monday that it will withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The country, which has failed to meet Kyoto targets (TorontoStar), said it will aim to lower carbon emissions at a lower rate, along with that of the United States.
In his blog, Energy, Security, and Climate, CFR's Michael Levi says the "landmark deal" reached at the Durban UN climate change conference this past weekend was overhyped.
UNITED STATES: The Obama administration formally called on Iran to return a U.S. surveillance drone (WSJ)that was recovered by Iranian armed forces earlier this month.
Russian Billionaire to Challenge Putin
Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov announced he would challenge President Vladimir Putin in next year's presidential election (NYT). The move followed a weekend of anti-Kremlin protests in response to disputed parliamentary elections earlier this month.
ITALY: Thousands of union members began a series of strikes (DeutscheWelle) ahead of a parliamentary vote on fresh measures to cut spending and raise taxes. The austerity plans are meant to fend off further sovereign debt contagion to the eurozone's third largest economy.
Supreme Court to Hear Arizona Immigration Case
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to determine whether Arizona can implement its controversial anti-immigration law (NYT), which requires state law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they stop if they believe the individual might be an illegal immigrant.
TAXES: House Republicans are set to push through a payroll tax cut extension (FiscalTimes) bill that includes provisions to force work on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. The bill is not likely to progress since President Obama has objected to such a provision.