A Legacy of Global Instability

PRES. OBAMA: “[W]e cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.” (“President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address,” 1/20/2009)

FORMER PRES. JIMMY CARTER:I can't think of many nations in the world where we have a better relationship now than when he took over.” (“Jimmy Carter: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy Accomplishments ‘Minimal,’” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/01/2015)

Islamic State: ‘U.S. Facing Greatest Threat From Terrorist Groups Since 9/11’

“Defense Sec. Ash Carter: ISIS is not contained” (“Defense Sec. Ash Carter: ISIS Is Not Contained,” CBS News, 12/09/2015)

“FBI director: U.S. facing greatest threat from terrorist groups since 9/11” (“FBI Director: U.S. Facing Greatest Threat From Terrorist Groups Since 9/11,” CNN, 12/09/2015)

“Since last spring the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has been expanding beyond its local struggle to international terrorism. In the last two weeks, it did that in a spectacular way, first claiming responsibility for downing a Russian planeload of 224 people, then sending squads of killers who ended the lives of 43 people in Beirut and 129 in Paris.” (“In Rise of ISIS, No Single Missed Key but Many Strands of Blame,” The New York Times, 11/18/2015)

“Many of President Obama’s Democratic allies in Congress say they do not believe he is being aggressive enough in confronting the terrorist threat of the Islamic State after last week’s attacks in California, undermining Americans’ sense of safety, especially among voters who will decide the party’s fate in elections next year.” (“Obama’s Plans to Stop ISIS Leave Many Democrats Wanting More,” The New York Times, 12/08/2015)


Afghanistan: ‘Taliban Now Control More Territory Than At Any Time Since 2001’

“With the Islamic State dominating headlines in 2015, Afghanistan went back to being America’s forgotten war. That made it easier to ignore the fact that the Taliban now control more territory than at any time since 2001.” (“Mapped: The Taliban Surged in 2015, but ISIS Is Moving In on Its Turf,” Foreign Policy’s The Cable, 1/04/2016)

Violence in Afghanistan is on the rise, according to a new Pentagon report to Congress that says the Taliban was emboldened by the reduced U.S. military role and can be expected to build momentum from their 2015 attack strategy. . . . The Pentagon report, the latest in a regular series of Pentagon war updates required by Congress, also said the Taliban-led insurgency has been emboldened by the U.S. transition from direct combat operations to a train-and-advise role.” (“Pentagon report to Congress says violence in Afghanistan is on the rise,” The Associated Press, 12/15/2015)

“Mr. Obama revised his withdrawal plans in October, saying that about 5,500 troops would remain in the country through the end of his term in early 2017.” (“Obama’s ‘Boots on the Ground’: U.S. Special Forces Are Sent to Tackle Global Threats,” The New York Times, 12/27/2015)

Iran: ‘Further Entrenching Iran’s Hard-Line Camp’

“[T]here are growing fears in Washington and Europe that the [nuclear] deal—coupled with an escalating conflict with Saudi Arabia—instead risks further entrenching Iran’s hard-line camp. Since completion of the agreement in July, Tehran security forces, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have stepped up arrests of political opponents in the arts, media and the business community, part of a crackdown aimed at ensuring Mr. Khamenei’s political allies dominate national elections scheduled for Feb. 26, according to Iranian politicians and analysts.” (“Nuclear Deal Fuels Iran’s Hard-Liners,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/08/2016)

“Iran has test-fired two ballistic missiles since the July agreement, one in October and a second in November, according to U.S. officials. A United Nations panel ruled in December that the October launch violated a U.N. Security Council resolution that bans Iran’s development of ballistic-missile systems.” (“U.S. Lawmakers Blast Delay on Iran Sanctions,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/02/2016)

“Iran unveiled a new underground missile depot on Tuesday with state television showing Emad precision-guided missiles in store which the United States says can take a nuclear warhead and violate a 2010 U.N. Security Council resolution.” (“Iran Unveils Second Underground Missile, Likely To Irk U.S.,” Reuters, 1/05/2016)

“The U.S. on Wednesday accused Iran of launching a ‘highly provocative’ rocket test last week near its warships and commercial traffic passing through the Strait of Hormuz, exposing how tensions between the two countries could escalate even after a landmark nuclear deal.” (“US Says Iran Launched 'Provocative' Rocket Test Near Ships,” The Associated Press, 12/30/2015)

“Bahrain said on Wednesday it had caught an Iranian-linked cell plotting attacks on its territory, days after it followed its close ally Saudi Arabia in cutting ties with Iran.” (“Bahrain Says Catches Iran-Linked Cell Plotting Attacks,” Reuters, 1/06/2016)

Persian Gulf: ‘The Middle East Slid Dangerously Closer To Regional Conflict’

“The Middle East slid dangerously closer to regional conflict Monday after Saudi Arabia rallied its Sunni allies to sever diplomatic ties with Iran, prompting alarmed appeals for restraint from powers across the globe. Bahrain and Sudan joined Saudi Arabia in cutting off relations with Iran, and the United Arab Emirates, a key Iranian trading partner, recalled its ambassador from Tehran . . . .” (“Mideast Tensions Soar As Saudi Arabia Rallies Countries To Cut Ties With Iran,” The Washington Post, 1/04/2016)

“Iranian protesters ransacked and set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran on Saturday after Saudi Arabia executed an outspoken Shiite cleric who had criticized the kingdom’s treatment of its Shiite minority.” (“Iranian Protesters Ransack Saudi Embassy After Execution of Shiite Cleric,” The New York Times, 1/02/2016)

“The nuclear deal with Iran only fueled the Saudi sense that the United States was rethinking the fundamental relationship — and Saudi officials, on visits to Washington, openly questioned whether they could rely on their American ally. . . . Patrick Clawson, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, saw a desire to send a pointed message to Washington. The Saudis were saying, Mr. Clawson wrote, that ‘if the United States will not stand up to Iran, Riyadh will do so on its own.’” (“U.S. In A Bind As Saudi Actions Test A Durable Alliance,” The New York Times, 1/04/2016)

“[T]he public call for calm papered over long-simmering disagreements over Iran and other matters between the United States and Saudi Arabia, its powerful Middle Eastern ally, and threatened a serious rupture. . . . Saudi Arabia made clear that its concerns about U.S. dismay over the weekend’s events were minor compared with its belief that the West was kowtowing to Shiite Iran on a range of issues.” (“U.S. Fears Saudi Tensions With Iran Could Affect Fight Against ISIS,” The Washington Post, 1/03/2016)

Syria: ‘Use Of Chemical Weapons Continues’

“The Obama administration's best-case scenario for political transition in Syria does not foresee Bashar Assad stepping down as the country's leader before March 2017, outlasting Barack Obama's presidency by at least two months, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.” (“US sees Assad staying in Syria until March 2017,” The Associated Press, 1/06/2016)

“Use of chemical weapons continues in Syria” (“Use of chemical weapons continues in Syria,” IHS Jane’s 360, 1/03/2016)

  • “The Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on 23 November 2015 expressed ‘grave concern’ that chemical weapons (CW) had once again been used in Syria after its fact-finding mission (FFM) confirmed ‘with the utmost confidence’ that sulphur mustard had been deployed in an attack on the rebel-held town of Marea on 21 August.” (“Use of chemical weapons continues in Syria,” IHS Jane’s 360, 1/03/2016)

Libya: Islamic State ‘Has Expanded In Libya And Established A New Base’

“Even as foreign powers step up pressure against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the militant group has expanded in Libya and established a new base close to Europe where it can generate oil revenue and plot terror attacks.” (“Islamic State Tightens Grip on Libyan Stronghold of Sirte,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/29/2015)

  • “Since announcing its presence in February in Sirte, the city on Libya’s Mediterranean coast has become the first that the militant group governs outside of Syria and Iraq. Its presence there has grown over the past year from 200 eager fighters to a roughly 5,000-strong contingent which includes administrators and financiers, according to estimates by Libyan intelligence officials, residents and activists in the area.” (“Islamic State Tightens Grip on Libyan Stronghold of Sirte,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/29/2015)

North Korea: ‘Downgraded … As A National Security Priority’

“North Korea declared on Tuesday that it had detonated its first hydrogen bomb. The assertion, if true, would dramatically escalate the nuclear challenge from one of the world’s most isolated and dangerous states.” (“North Korea Says It Has Detonated Its First Hydrogen Bomb,” The New York Times, 1/05/2016)

“North Korea got less attention as Obama focused on Iran nuke deal” (“North Korea Got Less Attention As Obama Focused On Iran Nuke Deal,” The Washington Post, 1/06/2016)


China: ‘China’s Military Is Rapidly Expanding Its Operations Far From Its Own Coast’

“Five Chinese navy ships are currently operating in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska, Pentagon officials said Wednesday, marking the first time the U.S. military has seen Chinese naval activity in the area. . . . The presence of the Chinese ships so close to U.S. shores is the latest demonstration of how China’s military is rapidly expanding its operations far from its own coast to oversee the nation’s growing global interests.” (“Five Chinese Navy Ships Are Operating In Bering Sea Off Alaska,” Wall Street Journal, 9/2/15)

“China’s robust assertions of its claim to virtually the entire South China Sea have long drawn complaints and sparked the occasional maritime confrontations in the area through which $5 trillion in global trade passes each year.” (“The New Year And A Bumpy Road Ahead For China,” The Associated Press, 1/11/2016)


Related Issues: ISIL, North Korea, Syria, National Security, China, Afghanistan, Iran Nuclear Deal, War on Terror, Iran