elizrael + nsc   101

ישראל: אסד יוכל להישאר בשלטון - אם האיראנים יעזבו את סוריה
אטיין עדכן את בן-שבת ואת כהן על הפגישה שהתקיימה בשבוע שעבר בין מקרון לבין נשיא רוסיה, ולדימיר פוטין, ועסקה בניסיונות להגיע להסדר מדיני לסיום מלחמת האזרחים בסוריה. יועצו הבכיר של מקרון ביקש לדעת מה עמדת ישראל לגבי הסדר עתידי כזה. לפי מקור המעורה בתכני הפגישה, בן-שבת הבהיר כי הבעיה של ישראל בסוריה היא הנוכחות של איראן וחיזבאללה ולא משטר אסד. "אין לישראל בעיה שאסד יישאר בשלטון כל עוד האיראנים יצאו מהמדינה", אמר בן-שבת לאטיין. העמדה שהשמיע בן-שבת מאמצת חלק מהעמדה הרוסית ולפיה סילוק אסד מהשלטון בסוריה אינו תנאי להסדר עתידי במדינה.
Russia  Mar15  Israel  NSC  Assad  Iran  leak 
june 2018 by elizrael
Iran’s Priorities in a Turbulent Middle East | Crisis Group
The proponents of the former perspective warned against intervening militarily in Syria, lest it prompt a sectarian backlash against Iran and dilute Iran’s revolutionary ideal of siding with the downtrodden; instead, they championed reforms to counter the protests. The latter, by contrast, argued for aiding Damascus in supressing the uprising. The resulting deadlock in the SNSC was broken by the parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, who sided with the interventionists, but suggested offering a package deal to Damascus that, in addition to Iran’s military backing, contained demands for reforms. It remains unclear precisely what reforms Iran proposed beyond Syria making a transition to a more inclusive form of government, or whether Iran was willing to back up its proposal with genuine pressure. The fact is that whatever reforms may have been considered were overtaken by military priorities, as the uprising turned into a civil war and then a sectarian-tainted, zero-sum regional proxy conflict in which the regime’s survival rendered moot any notion of reform.
Mar15  Iraq  intervention  ForeignFighters  NSC  decision_making  Khamenai  Rouhani  Yemen  IranianProxy  Hizbollah  Saudi-Arabia 
april 2018 by elizrael
White House Officials Push for Widening War in Syria Over Pentagon Objections | Foreign Policy, June 16, 2017
A pair of top White House officials is pushing to broaden the war in Syria, viewing it as an opportunity to confront Iran and its proxy forces on the ground there, according to two sources familiar with the debate inside the Donald Trump administration.

Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, and Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East advisor, want the United States to start going on the offensive in southern Syria, where, in recent weeks, the U.S. military has taken a handful of defensive actions against Iranian-backed forces fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Their plans are making even traditional Iran hawks nervous, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has personally shot down their proposals more than once, the two sources said.
NSC  internal_struggle  Mar15  TrumpAdministration  Iran  DoD 
september 2017 by elizrael
Obama’s secret struggle to retaliate against Putin’s election interference - Washington Post, June 23, 2017
Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.

But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.
Obama  obama_administration  Russia  hacking  2016USElections  sanctions  decision_making  NSC  Susan_Rice  CIA  intelligence_assessment  TrumpAdministration 
august 2017 by elizrael
Iran hawks, Bannon loyalists booted in White House purge - Al-Monitor, Aug 3, 2017
A faction of Iran hawks in the Donald Trump administration appears to have been dealt a blow in recent days. Several officials allied with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon have been removed from the National Security Council (NSC).
White_House  NSC  TrumpAdministration  Iran  Bannon 
august 2017 by elizrael
NSC’s Ben Rhodes Busted for Lying about the Syrian Opposition and Al-Qaeda – Medium, Jan 19, 2017
In late 2014, I was involved in outreach to the Administration on behalf of Harakat Hazzm, a Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group that was then fighting pitched battles against both ISIS and Nusra. The White House repeatedly shrugged off their requests for increased assistance; when they were overtaken by Nusra, they were receiving under 20 bullets a month per fighter.
A second FSA coalition, the Authenticity and Development Front, asked for greater military assistance to fight ISIS after the fall of Mosul. Though I personally briefed the National Security Council and provided names of operations rooms, names of commanders, their battle strategy, and a list of desired weapons — mainly anti-tank — the White House again shrugged them off and allowed eastern Syria to fall to ISIS.

A few months later, I briefed the NSC on behalf of anti-ISIS rebels in Aleppo and requested airstrikes against ISIS — just like the airstrikes then being conducted in Kobani — on their behalf. The main objection I received from the National Security Council at this time was that helping moderate rebels against ISIS risked strengthening the rebels, which would weaken Assad, which would anger Iran and jeopardize U.S. troops in Iraq. Based on this convoluted logic, the rebels’ request for airstrikes was denied.

Finally, the Syrian American Council participated in a National Security Council meeting, after the siege of Aleppo began, in which we requested increased support to Free Syrian Army rebels in the western suburbs who might have been able to break the siege. We were rebuffed out of hand and told that the White House was interested only in “creative” solutions that did not involve escalation against Assad regime. I wonder if Mr. Rhodes views last month’s slaughter in Aleppo as sufficiently “creative.”
obama_administration  NSC  Mar15  lies  FSA  foreign_aid  ISIS  Assad  lobby 
april 2017 by elizrael
The colonels shaping Trump's Middle East policy - Al-Monitor, Feb 9, 2017
Who’s who in the Trump NSC: The retired military intelligence officers who helped David Petraeus with the surge in Iraq are now shaping policies for a president who says the United States should have never invaded Iraq.
NSC  decision_making  TrumpAdministration  Mar15  personal 
april 2017 by elizrael
Trump vexed by challenges, scale of government - POLITICO, Feb 10, 2017
The new president’s allies say he has been surprised that government can’t be run like his business.
Last week, Trump told an associate he had become weary of infighting among — and leaks from — his White House staff “because it reflects on me,” and that he intended to sit down staffers to tell them “to cut this shit out.”
Trump  TrumpAdministration  NSC  decision_making  White_House  leak 
april 2017 by elizrael
Obama administration considering strikes on Assad, again - The Washington Post, Oct 4, 2016
Last Wednesday, at a Deputies Committee meeting at the White House, officials from the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed limited military strikes against the regime as a means of forcing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to pay a cost for his violations of the cease-fire, disrupt his ability to continue committing war crimes against civilians in Aleppo, and raise the pressure on the regime to come back to the negotiating table in a serious way.

The options under consideration, which remain classified, include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships, an administration official who is part of the discussions told me. One proposed way to get around the White House’s long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said.

The CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represented in the Deputies Committee meeting by Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva, expressed support for such “kinetic” options, the official said. That marked an increase of support for striking Assad compared with the last time such options were considered.

“There’s an increased mood in support of kinetic actions against the regime,” one senior administration official said. “The CIA and the Joint Staff have said that the fall of Aleppo would undermine America’s counterterrorism goals in Syria.”
obama_administration  internal_struggle  foreign_policy  Mar15  CIA  DoD  NSC 
october 2016 by elizrael
What Syrians actually think of a peace deal - The Washington Post, July 28, 2015
Political representation is at the heart of the issue. Who should participate in negotiations? What is the size of their presence and support on the ground in Syria? The findings show that together various opposition alternatives to the Assad regime receive support from almost half of Syrians across the country. Yet, disconcertingly, nearly one quarter of respondents say that either no party represents them or they do not know. Reflecting the failure of Syria’s external opposition to secure internal legitimacy, only 16.8 percent of Syrians across all surveyed areas believe that the National Coalition represents them in negotiations. Even in opposition-controlled areas, belief in the coalition is only slightly more favorable with 19 percent. The Assad regime fares little better. Only 16.1 percent of respondents nationwide support the regime, and it was viewed as representative by just 39.1 percent of the population in areas under its own control.
polls  Mar15  Peace_Process  Assad  NSC 
november 2015 by elizrael
How the Obama White House runs foreign policy - The Washington Post, Aug 4, 2015
In the Defense Department, where mistrust of the White House has persisted since the administration began, Obama is described as resolute and bold when a quick executive action is needed on operations such as hostage rescues and targeted captures and killings.

However, when the president has wanted to move swiftly on some of his most ambitious policy initiatives — the opening to Cuba and the early Iran nuclear negotiations — he has circumvented the usual practice for decision-making and kept a close hold within the White House.

But on a host of other important issues, the NSC, designed in Harry Truman’s time to coordinate sometimes-conflicting diplomatic and defense views, is still widely seen as the place where policy becomes immobilized by indecision, plodding through months and sometimes years of repetitive White House meetings.
decision_making  DoD  NSC  obama_administration  Obama  Susan_Rice  CIA  Egypt  coup  SamanthaPower  JohnKerry  Hagel  refugees  Ukraine  unnamed_official 
november 2015 by elizrael
White House Is Weighing a Syria Retreat - Bloomberg View, Oct 9, 2015
A week into Russia's military intervention in Syria, some top White House advisers and National Security Council staffers are trying to persuade President Barack Obama to scale back U.S. engagement there, to focus on lessening the violence and, for now, to give up on toppling the Syrian regime.

“The White House somehow thinks we can de-escalate the conflict while keeping Assad in power,” one senior administration official told us.

That view, being pushed by top White House National Security staffers, including senior coordinator for the Middle East Rob Malley, is not new. But it has received fresh emphasis given Russian intervention.

The NSC view is opposed by top officials in other parts of the government, especially Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power. They are trying to persuade Obama that the only way to solve Syria is to increase the pressure on Assad in the hopes he will enter negotiations.

Other officials told us that while U.S. still has programs in place to aid the moderate opposition, top members of the administration who have been pushing for more of that support, or for the establishment of safe zones in Syria, are increasingly frustrated with the White House’s reluctance. This group included Kerry and General John Allen, the outgoing special envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition.
RobMalley  NSC  Mar15  Russia  obama_administration  foreign_policy  Kerry  SamanthaPower  internal_struggle  intelligence_assessment  intervention  DoD 
october 2015 by elizrael
Military Hates White House ‘Micromanagement’ of ISIS War - The Daily Beast, Oct 31, 2014
Top military leaders in the Pentagon and in the field are growing increasingly frustrated by the tight constraints the White House has placed on the plans to fight ISIS and train a new Syrian rebel army.

As the American-led battle against ISIS stretches into its fourth month, the generals and Pentagon officials leading the air campaign and preparing to train Syrian rebels are working under strict White House orders to keep the war contained within policy limits. The National Security Council has given precise instructions on which rebels can be engaged, who can be trained, and what exactly those fighters will do when they return to Syria. Most of the rebels to be trained by the U.S. will never be sent to fight against ISIS.

Making matters worse, military officers and civilian Pentagon leaders tell The Daily Beast, is the ISIS war’s decision-making process, run by National Security Adviser Susan Rice. It’s been manic and obsessed with the tiniest of details.
DoD  NSC  Susan_Rice  decision_making  Mar15  foreign_aid  USTraining 
june 2015 by elizrael
Team of Bumblers? - Michael Hirsh - POLITICO Magazine, Oct 26, 2014
According to multiple sources, behind the scenes a few things went badly awry in the launch of Obama’s new policy. First, the Pentagon was surprised by the president’s timing, according to a senior defense official. “We didn’t know it was going to be in the speech,” he said, referring to Obama’s Sept. 10 address to the nation. Second, the White House neglected to give Pentagon lawyers a chance to revise and approve the proposed legislative language before it went to the Hill, which is considered standard practice. Staffers working for Rep. Buck McKeon, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said they were appalled by what they saw: language so sloppy that it failed to mention adequate protections against so-called “green-on-blue” attacks by trainees on American troops, and effectively left the Defense Department liable for funding the mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)—even though the president was telling members of Congress he didn’t need money for this new mission, since the Saudis were putting it up. “What came over would have not have been a mission the DoD could have executed,” says a senior Republican committee staffer.

The Armed Services Committee later went directly to the Pentagon and worked out new language, the White House approved it, and Obama signed the legislation as part of a new Continuing Resolution on Sept. 19. But that was hardly the first instance in recent months when the White House failed to consult with the Pentagon. The office of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was taken by surprise as well last July, when national security adviser Susan Rice sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner requesting a withdrawal of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed in 2002 to enable U.S. military action in Iraq. This letter came after Mosul, a key northern Iraqi city, had already fallen to ISIL and the scale of the threat was becoming clear. The letter was never acted on, and in fact the AUMF that Rice wanted withdrawn is now part of the very authority the administration says it is operating under, along with the 2001 AUMF against al Qaeda. The Pentagon was not given a heads-up about that letter either, according to multiple sources. “We didn’t know it was going over there, and there were significant concerns about it,” said the senior defense official. “We had these authorities to go into Iraq under the 2002 AUMF, which is what she wanted repealed. We believed the authorities were still needed.”

Indeed, the Syrian-rebel incident recalled a more famous instance of White House surprise tactics a year earlier, when after a stroll on the White House lawn with chief of staff Denis McDonough, Obama embarrassed Kerry by abruptly deciding to ask for congressional approval for bombing the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad—only hours after Kerry had publicly declared that Assad was facing imminent action.

In their recent memoirs, former defense secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta also have described the White House-centric foreign policy of the Obama administration—in Panetta’s case, a White House that he said was so “eager to rid itself of Iraq” it rejected Pentagon advice about the need for residual troops in Iraq after 2011, opening the way for ISIL. Gates was even more pointed, writing that “suspicion and distrust of senior military officers by senior White House officials—including the president and vice president—became a big problem for me.”
“I think this is the most insular White House national security team in recent history,” says Jim Thomas, vice president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and a former senior Pentagon official, who added that the president’s most recent big decision, picking an “Ebola czar,” was “symptomatic of the problem.” The choice: former Joe Biden chief of staff Ron Klain, picked by a White House seemingly unconcerned over the dubious optics of naming a Beltway politico to battle a deadly international disease.
obama_administration  decision_making  Obama  NSC  DoD  Hagel  Susan_Rice  Mar15  ISIS 
june 2015 by elizrael
When things go wrong, Obama increasingly relies on his inner circle, not his Cabinet - The Washington Post, Oct 22,2014
Several current and former administration officials say that although Cabinet officials are now empowered to pursue specific projects, they are still sometimes excluded from key decision-making sessions.
obama_administration  decision_making  foreign_policy  internal_struggle  NSC  State_Department  DoD 
march 2015 by elizrael
Obama should blame himself, not Chuck Hagel, for Hagel's failure as Defense Secretary - Vox
Obama has been trying something very different with his foreign policy during his second term. That approach doomed Hagel to failure.

The way that presidents traditionally make foreign policy is by working with, and through, the key agencies: the State Department, the CIA and other intelligence agencies, and of course the Pentagon. That's what Obama did in his first term, in part by appointing strong people to lead the agencies, particularly Robert M. Gates to run the Pentagon and Hillary Clinton at the State Department. Gates and Clinton were strong forces running their agencies and within the White House, shaping US foreign policy through both.

That made for good policy, but it came at costs: Gates and Clinton and their respective agencies pushed foreign policy in directions that Obama wouldn't have gone on his own, for example by intervening in Libya in 2011 and sending more troops to Afghanistan in 2009. They and their agencies leaked unflattering quotes and stories. And they hammered Obama with open criticism.

Obama hated all of this, and so in his second term he deliberately appointed weak cabinet secretaries whom he could control: Hagel and John Kerry, who became Secretary of State, are both Obama's former Senate colleagues and friendly allies; they are also not known as strong-willed. Then Obama weakened the agencies (Pentagon, State Department, CIA) even further by concentrating more and more of the foreign policy decision-making within a small, closed White House team.

At the center of that team is National Security Advisor Susan Rice. The National Security Council (NSC), which Rice leads, is supposed to be the president's personal White House brain trust for foreign policy. But it's become something much bigger: the chief foreign policy agency of the Unites States.

That would be okay if Obama's small White House staff were so brilliant that they could really replace the hundreds of people at the State Department and Pentagon who are supposed to be setting US foreign policy. But they're not, and they can't, and that's part of why American foreign policy has been sort of a mess the last couple of years. Hagel never had a chance.
obama_administration  chuckHagel  decision_making  NSC  DoD  State_Department  internal_struggle 
november 2014 by elizrael
Obama's Gray Man - By James Mann | Foreign Policy, May 28, 2013
The gist of the complaints is that Donilon burns out personnel with his unending requests for more and more paperwork on the details of foreign policy (he asks for extensive briefing papers, even before a meeting with a journalist) and that Donilon sometimes treats subordinates in a curt fashion, either on his own or through a brusque young aide.

Another source of suspicion is Donilon's background in partisan politics. He first rose to prominence as a Democratic political operative, went to work for Jimmy Carter's White House right after his college graduation, and became Carter's delegate-counter at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. (At the Palm, the Washington steakhouse where old pals from the Carter administration still gather for Friday lunches, the question gets asked from time to time: How did a pol like Donilon end up as national security advisor?)
Thomas_Donilon  obama_administration  internal_struggle  NSC  State_Department  DoD 
june 2013 by elizrael
NSC urged Obama to give body armor to Syrian rebels | The Cable, Mar 28, 2013
The National Security Council (NSC) recommended that the United States give non-lethal military assistance such as body armor and night vision goggles to the Syrian rebels last month, but U.S. President Barack Obama did not approve the recommendation, The Cable has learned.
NSC  obama_administration  Mar15  FSA  foreign_aid  internal_struggle 
march 2013 by elizrael
Buzz on Obama 2.0 Middle East team | The Back Channel
Among those under consideration for the State Department Near East Assistant Secretary job, officials said, is Puneet Talwar, who has served as the Obama administration National Security Council Senior Director for Persian Gulf Affairs. Talwar, the former top Iran and Iraq advisor on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff under then SFRC chairman Joe Biden, is also said to be under consideration to become national security advisor to Vice President Biden. (Current OVP national security advisor Anthony Blinken is expected to get a promotion in the new term: among the posts he is discussed for, Deputy Secretary of State, Deputy National Security Advisor, or US UN envoy, if Susan Rice is named National Security Advisor.)

At the NSC, as the Back Channel first reported back in November, NSC Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa Steve Simon will leave, to head the International Institute for Strategic Studies-US (IISS-US). Among those reportedly in the mix to succeed him, Jon Alterman, a former Clinton-era State Department Policy Planning and Near East bureau staffer who directs Middle East studies and holds the Brzezinski chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
NEA  NSC  State_Department  obama_administration 
january 2013 by elizrael
נתניהו יתמוך בגירוש המסתננים מדרום סודן | Maariv, May 20, 2012
ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו תומך בגירוש נתיני דרום סודן, השוהים בישראל, בחזרה למדינתם. למעריב נודע כי בכוונת המועצה לביטחון לאומי, אשר פועלת במשרד ראש הממשלה, לאמץ את חוות הדעת של משרד החוץ ולקבוע שאין מניעה מלגרש למעלה מ-2,000 שוהים בלתי חוקיים מסודן בחזרה לארצם. נתניהו צפוי להתייחס לסוגיית הרחקתם של נתיני דרום סודן בישיבת הממשלה הבוקר.

המועצה לביטחון לאומי (מל"ל) בראשות האלוף (מיל') יעקב עמידרור תגיש בימים הקרובים לפרקליטות המדינה חוות דעת שתכלול את עמדת משרדי החוץ והפנים בנידון ותהווה את הבסיס לעמדת המדינה שתוגש לבית המשפט המחוזי לעניינים מנהליים בירושלים בשלושה ביוני.
Netanyahu  SouthSudan  refugees  deportation  NSC  Israel 
may 2012 by elizrael
Obama administration moves to aid Syrian opposition | The Cable, Mar 6, 2012
Last week, a group of senior Obama administration officials met to finalize a package of options for aiding both the internal and external Syrian opposition, to include providing direct humanitarian and communications assistance to the Syrian opposition, two administration officials confirmed to The Cable. This meeting of what's known as the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council set forth a new and assertive strategy for expanding U.S. engagement with Syrian activists and providing them with the means to organized themselves, but stops short of providing any direct military assistance to the armed opposition.

For now, riskier options, such as creating a no-fly zone in Syria, using U.S. military force there, or engaging directly with the Free Syrian Army, are all still off the table. But the administration has decided not to oppose, either in public or in private, the arming of the rebels by other countries, the officials said.

"These moves are going to invest the U.S. in a much deeper sense with the opposition," one administration official said. "U.S. policy is now aligned with enabling the opposition to overthrow the Assad regime. This codifies a significant change in our Syria policy."

Some in the administration still hold out hope that the Russians can be persuaded to play a more helpful role in Syria. But two officials confirmed that Russian arms deliveries to Syria are ongoing and one administration official said that the latest shipment included large amounts of advanced anti-aircraft missile systems, which are meant to help Syria repel any attempt to establish a no-fly zone.
obama_administration  Syria  NSC  foreign_policy  foreign_aid  unnamed_official  FSA  Russia  weapons 
march 2012 by elizrael
מדברי עוזי ארד משתמע: ישראל נמצאת בידיים לא בטוחות - הארץ
ארד מתאפק ועדיין אינו מספר כל מה שידוע לו על שרה נתניהו והשפעתה על חיי הישראלים. די בעדותו של ארד עד כה כדי לצמרר: ישראל בשלטון נתניהו אינה מדינת משטרה, אלא גרוע מכך - מדינת משפחה. והשב"כ, שכפוף לראש הממשלה ושראשו מתמנה (או זוכה בארכה של שנה נוספת, או מייחל למינוי בכיר אחר) בידיו, משמש כלי זדוני בידי מי שרוצים להפליל בכירים. זאת, בין השאר, מפני שבחקירת הדלפות, השב"כ לעולם אינו חוקר את ראש הממשלה עצמו - גם כאשר הוא מומחה ותיק להדלפות. בראשות יורם כהן, מינוי של נתניהו, חזר השב"כ לרמתו הבעייתית בתקופה שלפני רצח יצחק רבין ואיבד הרבה מהמעמד שהעניקו לו מאז עמי אילון, אבי דיכטר ויובל דיסקין.

קרבתו של ארד לאירועים ואמינותו, מחייבות חקירה מקצועית של טענותיו. משתמע מהן שישראל, העלולה להימצא על סף הרפתקה מלחמתית, נמצאת בידיים שאין לבטוח בהן. אסור שטענות אלה, בבואן מפי מקורבו לשעבר של נתניהו, תישארנה תלויות בחלל.
PMO  NSC  Israel  NetanyahuGovt  Netanyahu  decision_making  Iran.NuclearProgram 
march 2012 by elizrael
Obama administration secretly preparing options for aiding the Syrian opposition | The Cable, Dec 28, 2011
Now, the administration is ramping up its policymaking machinery on the issue after several weeks of having no top-level administration meetings to discuss the Syria crisis. The National Security Council (NSC) has begun an informal, quiet interagency process to create and collect options for aiding the Syrian opposition, two administration officials confirmed to The Cable.

The options under consideration include establishing a humanitarian corridor or safe zone for civilians in Syria along the Turkish border, extending humanitarian aid to the Syrian rebels, providing medical aid to Syrian clinics, engaging more with the external and internal opposition, forming an international contact group, or appointing a special coordinator for working with the Syrian opposition (as was done in Libya), according to the two officials, both of whom are familiar with the discussions but not in attendance at the meetings.

"The interagency is now looking at options for Syria, but it's still at the preliminary stage," one official said. "There are many people in the administration that realize the status quo is unsustainable and there is an internal recognition that existing financial sanctions are not going to bring down the Syrian regime in the near future."

After imposing several rounds of financial sanctions on Syrian regime leaders, the focus is now shifting to assisting the opposition directly. The interagency process is still ongoing and the NSC has tasked State and DOD to present options in the near future, but nothing has been decided, said the officials -- one of whom told The Cable that the administration was being intentionally careful out of concern about what comes next in Syria.

The option of establishing a humanitarian corridor is seen as extremely unlikely because it would require establishing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, which would likely involve large-scale attacks on Syrian air defense and military command-and-control systems.

"That's theoretically one of the options, but it's so far out of the realm that no one is thinking about that seriously at the moment," another administration official said.
NSC  Obama_administration  Syria  Mar15  opposition  unnamed_official  HumanitarianIntervention  SNC  internal_struggle 
february 2012 by elizrael
Dennis Ross leaving White House | The Cable, Nov 10, 2011
White House advisor Dennis Ross, one of President Barack Obama's lead officials in handling the Middle East peace process and U.S. policy toward Iran, is leaving the administration and returning to the private sector.
Dennis_Ross  NSC  obama_administration 
november 2011 by elizrael
Robert Gates Says Netanyahu Is an Ungrateful Ally: Jeffrey Goldberg - Bloomberg, Sep 6, 2011
That display of impudence left the president and his team feeling unusually angry. Shortly afterward, Obama’s chief of staff, William Daley, called the Israeli ambassador in Washington, Michael Oren, to communicate the displeasure of the White House in a reportedly heated way. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who watched her husband battle Netanyahu in the late 1990s, also expressed anger and frustration about the prime minister within the administration.

Senior administration officials told me that Gates argued to the president directly that Netanyahu is not only ungrateful, but also endangering his country by refusing to grapple with Israel’s growing isolation and with the demographic challenges it faces if it keeps control of the West Bank. According to these sources, Gates’s analysis met with no resistance from other members of the committee.
Obama_administration  hillary_clinton  Robert_Gates  Netanyahu  unnamed_official  NSC  Saudi-Arabia  arms_trade 
september 2011 by elizrael
Inside the Obama team’s “shift” on Syria - By Josh Rogin | The Cable, April 26, 2011
Two weeks ago, however, the mood inside the administration changed in response to Assad's brutal crackdown and the realization that he was not listening to pro-reform voices.... After a series of deliberations, culminating in a Deputies Committee meeting at the National Security Council last week, a new policy course was set. In the coming days, expect a new executive order on Syria, a draft presidential statement at the U.N. Security Council, new designations of Syrian officials as targets of sanctions, and a firmer tone on the violence that will include references to Iran's unhelpful influence on Syria's crackdown.

"A lot of people were wrong. The general assessment [inside the administration] was that this wouldn't happen, that Assad was too good at nipping these movements in the bud and also that he was not afraid to be brutal," one administration official said. "All of these things combined made this more of a surprise and made it much harder to deal with."
Syria  NSC  Obama_administration  foreign_policy  Mar15  unnamed_official  Treasury_Department  state_department 
april 2011 by elizrael
U.S. Seeks to Raise Heat on Syria - WSJ.com, April 25, 2011
Unilateral sanctions by Washington on Syrian officials wouldn't have much direct impact on Mr. Assad's inner circle, as most regime members have few holdings in the U.S. But countries in Europe, where the Assads are believed to have more substantial assets, will be pressured to follow Washington's lead, the officials involved in the discussions said.

The intensifying crackdown has significantly diminished hope in Washington and Europe that Mr. Assad can embrace meaningful reforms, U.S. and European officials involved in the sanctions deliberations said. Doubts are also growing in the Obama administration and among its allies that Mr. Assad will survive the uprising.

"We don't see how Assad can push this genie back in the bottle," a senior European official said. "It's too late for him to get ahead of the curve politically."
Opposition  NSC  Obama_administration  Sanctions  Treasury_Department  Europe  Mar15  Assad 
april 2011 by elizrael
How Obama turned on a dime toward war | The Cable, March 18, 2011
"This is the greatest opportunity to realign our interests and our values," a senior administration official said at the meeting, telling the experts this sentence came from Obama himself. The president was referring to the broader change going on in the Middle East and the need to rebalance U.S. foreign policy toward a greater focus on democracy and human rights.

Inside the administration, senior officials were lined up on both sides.

[Rice's] instructions were to get a resolution that would give the international community broad authority to achieve Qaddafi's removal, including the use of force beyond the imposition of a no-fly zone.
Obama  Obama_administration  hillary_clinton  foreign_policy  R2P  UNSCR1973  humanitarianIntervention  Samantha_Power  Michael_McFaul  Denis_McDonough  Robert_Gates  Thomas_Donilon  NSC  Joe_Biden  internal_struggle  regime_change  unnamed_official  decision_making 
march 2011 by elizrael
Libyan Forces Rout Rebels as West’s Effort for No-Flight Zone Stalls - NYTimes.com, March 15, 2011
In Benghazi itself, though, there were no signs of preparations for a vigorous defense, and there were reports on Tuesday night that rebels may have retaken parts of Ajdabiya. Witnesses said that by evening rebel fighters seemed to be patrolling the streets, and there was speculation that loyalist soldiers may have withdrawn to the perimeter after overrunning the city, a pattern they have followed in previous battles.

With the advances made by loyalists, there is growing consensus in the Obama administration that imposing a no-flight zone over Libya would no longer make much of a difference, a senior official said. Just moving the ships and planes into place to impose an effective no-flight zone, the official said, would take until April, too late to help rebels hunkered down in Benghazi.

Among those options are jamming Libyan government radio signals and financing the rebel forces with $32 billion in Libyan government and Qaddafi family funds frozen by the United States.
realpolitik  Obama_administration  Thomas_Donilon  NSC  Libya  Feb17  NFZ 
march 2011 by elizrael
Leftists: Amidror a fascist - Ynet, Mar 9, 2011
"Amidror's declaration that in a normal army, a soldier who's scared to charge forward should be shot in the head is blatantly illegal," the letter reads. "This statement disqualifies him for any public post, and certainly a sensitive security-political position."
Amidror  NSC  ISrael 
march 2011 by elizrael
ראש הממשלה מינה את יעקב עמידרור לעמוד בראש המועצה לביטחון לאומי | Haaretz, March 9, 2011
עם הודעתו של ארד, פנה נתניהו לאלוף במילואים מאיר כליפי, ששימש כמזכירו הצבאי עד לפני שנה, אך הוא סירב בנימוס. אחרי סירובו של כליפי פנה נתניהו לעמידרור, שהיה בעבר ראש חטיבת המחקר באמ"ן. עמידרור הינו איש ימין ומקורב לנתניהו וליועציו. כיום הוא בעל טור קבוע בעיתון "ישראל היום" שמזוהה עם נתניהו.
NSC  Israel 
march 2011 by elizrael
Obama admin. seeks ideas amid Mideast impasse - Laura Rozen, Jan 13, 2011
But the Middle East adviser described both the Israeli and Palestinian parties as unforthcoming on specifics, including on the two key issues — borders and security — that several veteran U.S. diplomats have advocated take priority.
NSC  Obama_administration  Michael_Oren  Dennis_Ross  peace_process 
january 2011 by elizrael
Brooke Anderson to be named NSC chief of staff - Laura Rozen, Dec 16, 2010
Anderson, currently the number two official and ambassador for special political affairs at the U.S. mission at the United Nations, will start at the White House beginning on January 12th. She succeeds Denis McDonough who was named deputy national security advisor in October.
NSC  Obama_administration 
december 2010 by elizrael
Obama NSC meets with Egypt democracy advocates - Laura Rozen, Nov 2, 2010
the meeting comes in the midst of the Obama administration conducting a review of its policy on democracy in the Middle East, and a significantly stepped-up focus by senior Obama administration officials on the Egyptian democracy issue in particular.

It may also be a sign as well that Ross and Shapiro basically had both time and reason to devote to the issue because the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is currently on hold, and the Obama administration is “looking for a positive agenda in the region to talk about," a participant posited. The Obama administration is also concerned, he suggested, that its previous diplomatic efforts to press Cairo in private conversations and in written statements to repeal its Emergency Law and to accept international elections monitors have been rejected or ignored.
Obama_administration  democracy_promotion  NSC  Dennis_Ross  Samantha_Power  Elliott_Abrams  Egypt  emergency_law  election_monitoring  EgyptElection  PR 
november 2010 by elizrael
Holding pattern: Middle East peace track at impasse until after midterms - Laura Rozen, Oct 19, 2010
“They’re really upset,” one Washington Middle East hand in close contact with administration officials said Tuesday. “At the end of the day, they made this incredibly good faith effort to keep Bibi at the table.” And Bibi proved as yet unwilling to budge.

“’We put our asses on the line,’” the sense of dismay among the U.S. Middle East team at Netanyahu's rejection of the U.S. package was described. “’We worked with your defense minister and gave you this amazing deal, all the cover you needed to extend the freeze. And you not only rejected it, but put forward a counterproposal [demanding Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state] pandering to the right and a stalling tactic.’”

No new plan B is likely to emerge before the November mid-terms. One possibility being mulled -- but not decided on – is the administration eventually putting forward American ideas for the basis of an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.
Obama_administration  NetanyahuGovt  peace_process  constructionFreeze  NSC  unnamed_official  us_pressure 
october 2010 by elizrael
Woodward on Jones's departure, Donilon's world view, and Clinton's numbers - Laura Rozen, Oct 12, 2010
He also says Tom Donilon's elevation to the National Security Advisor job, along with Bob Gates's expected departure next year, could break the critical mass of consensus for the Afghan surge that President Barack Obama faced from his Defense Secretary and Secretary of State last year.

"Bringing Donilon into the National Security Council as the national security advisor is a real kind of declaration .... [that] the president's view is going to be more controlling here," Woodward said. "And it just couldn't be clearer."

"Donilon has a world view that's very consistent with the president's," Woodward continued. "Both of them view the war in Afghanistan as an investment, like you would spend $8 billion on a roads project and you know, get the road done then you're out of there. And the president has made it clear this is a limited investment in terms of money and time and the military doesn't like that."
AfghanistanWar  Obama_administration  Thomas_Donilon  NSC 
october 2010 by elizrael
The outsider - Laura Rozen, Oct 8, 2010
Former and current administration officials say that that Jones’s long-anticipated departure won’t have much impact because Donilon and National Security Council chief of staff Denis McDonough — who has just been elevated to Donilon’s old job — were running things anyway.

"One of Jones' failings as far as the White House was concerned was that he didn't do what they expected he would do to protect Obama from the military,” said Gelb. ...
James_Jones  Personal  Obama_administration  NSC  Thomas_Donilon  Denis_McDonough 
october 2010 by elizrael
The coming NSC shuffle - Laura Rozen, Sep 30, 2010
At which point it becomes relevant for me to note that the National Security Adviser, Gen. James Jones (ret.) will be leaving the administration – as we’ve reported before – and that announcement is expected before the midterm elections. Donilon is on the list of possible replacements.
James_Jones  Thomas_Donilon  NSC  Obama_administration 
september 2010 by elizrael
Foreign Ministry warned Israel Navy not to raid Gaza flotilla in international waters - Haaretz, June 10, 2010
According to a senior official in Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry diplomats said that despite the legality of overtaking the ships in international waters, such an action would hamper Israel on the diplomatic and public relations front worldwide.

Jerusalem is expected to announce the formation of a panel soon. One of the key issues to be examined by the committee is the legality of the navy's actions in the eyes of international law.

"The navy expressed concern that it would not be able to stop the flotilla once the ships reached within 20 miles of the coast," said an official who had a hand in the planning of the operation. "The IDF was fearful that the naval forces would not have adequate time to complete the operation. The army wanted to overtake the ships gradually and at a relatively great distance from the coast."

The NSC was not included in the primary preparations and response.
NSC  Israel  decision_making  IDF  MFA  MOD  The6  GazaFlotilla 
june 2010 by elizrael
U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast | NY Times, May 25, 2010
The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.

While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said. Its goals are to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to “prepare the environment” for future attacks by American or local military forces, the document said.
DoD  intelligence  GenevaConvention  Iran  Yemen  Saudi-Arabia  Al-Qaeda  terrorism  leak  Obama_administration  NSC 
may 2010 by elizrael
Who dropped the ball on Armenia resolution? - Laura Rozen, March 5, 2010
Berman “announced way in advance he was” scheduling this, one Washington Democratic foreign policy hand said. “They are basically asking ‘Please stop me.’ And they did not hear a word from the administration, I am being told,” until the night before.

The episode demonstrates the need for beefing up the NSC legislative affairs shop, the Democratic sources said

Administration officials said at this point, the key thing in terms of mitigating damage to the U.S.-Ankara relationship and efforts to advance Turkey-Armenia reconcilation would be that there is no further full Congressional action on the Armenia genocide resolution, e.g. that it not come up for a vote in Congress.
Armenia  genocide  congress  NSC  Obama_administration  Turkey 
march 2010 by elizrael
General Staff gives full support to Kurdish initiative | Today's Zaman, Dec 30, 2009
The MGK (National Security Council) will present a roadmap in 2010 in order to prevent the obstruction of the initiative by the main opposition parties.
Kurdish_Initiative  military  Turkey  NSC 
december 2009 by elizrael
An SNSC Meeting took place early Monday morning. - MikVerbrugge, Dec 29, 2009
he notability of this meeting wasn’t the fact that Sepah & SL’s representative were asking for carte-blanche again (they do all the time.) It was the fact that all members fully understood that for the 1st time, regime as a whole is at immediate danger of imploding by defections if the situation isn’t ended right away. Joint Forces Command is worried revolts in garrisons could happen at any time.
NSC  IranElection  repression  rumors  IRGC  military 
december 2009 by elizrael
Ayatollah Khamenei's jet put on standby | Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Dec 29, 2009
Reports from Iran indicate that the Supreme National Security Council has ordered a complete check-up of the jet which is on standby to fly Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei and his family to Russia should the situation in Iran spiral out of control. The order, to the Pasdaran Revolutionary Guard Corps, was dated on Sunday, 27 December. A fax containing the order was sent to Dutch-based Shahrzad News.
rumors  Khamenai  IRGC  NSC 
december 2009 by elizrael
Scoring Obama's nat'l security team | Politico, Dec 13, 2009
The most influential player is arguably the one Obama expected to stay on only temporarily, Gates. Jones has overcome an early sense of dislocation and dismay at the wide-open, un-hierarchical Obama White House to re-impose lines of authority in the NSC, maintain a balance of power among the principals, and give the president space to assert control over the military.
Robert_Gates  James_Jones  Obama_administration  state_department  Surge  NSC  Denis_McDonough  Dennis_Ross  Thomas_Donilon  Ben_Rhodes  Scott_Gration 
december 2009 by elizrael
China's backing on Iran followed dire predictions | Washington Post, Nov 26, 2009
Two weeks before President Obama visited China, two senior White House officials traveled to Beijing on a "special mission" to try to persuade China to pressure Iran to give up its alleged nuclear weapons program. If Beijing did not help the United States on this issue, the consequences could be severe, the visitors, Dennis Ross and Jeffrey Bader, both senior officials in the National Security Council, informed the Chinese. The Chinese were told that Israel regards Iran's nuclear program as an "existential issue and that countries that have an existential issue don't listen to other countries," according to a senior administration official.... While largely symbolic, it is the first such declaration since 2006 to be backed by both China and Russia.... But while diplomats and arms-control experts welcomed China's support of the IAEA resolution, some acknowledged that it is not clear whether Russia or China would go further and agree to new sanctions against Iran
BOG  IAEA  Israel  attack  NSC  Dennis_Ross  Jeff_Bader  WaPo  leak  new_info  Obama_administration  Iran.NuclearProgram 
november 2009 by elizrael
NSC shifts: Lippert departs, McDonough to succeed him | Laura Rozen, Oct 1, 2009
Lippert and McDonough have long been far more powerful than their ranks would suggest, given the president's trust in them. Lippert was Sen. Obama's only foreign policy advisor... McDonough became one of the Obama campaign's top foreign policy advisors operating out of the campaign's Chicago headquarters.... Since going into the NSC, where they have worked out of the same office, Lippert and McDonough have played a unsurpassed role in staffing Obama on national security issues and in principals committee meetings.... Denis McDonough will become NSC chief of staff and Ben Rhodes will succeed him as deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, and notes that Nate Tibbits, previously of CNAS and the White House personnel appointments national security office, will become NSC executive secretary.
NSC  Douglas_Lute  Mark_Lippert  Denis_McDonough  obama 
october 2009 by elizrael
Doin' the NSC Shuffle | Marc Lynch, October 1, 2009
There's been a slight shuffle at the top of the NSC. Denis McDonough is taking over Mark Lippert's position as chief of staff, and head speechwriter Ben Rhodes is taking over McDonough's position as Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications. Lippert will be missed, no doubt, but the other two moves are great news. McDonough will continue to do everything times seven, while Rhodes will be able to concentrate on the strategic communications dimension.
NSC  public_diplomacy 
october 2009 by elizrael
Stanford Africa expert to work for National Security Council | Stanford U News, September 8, 2009
Jeremy M. Weinstein, an associate professor of political science, has been appointed Director for Democracy at the National Security Council (NSC). He will be responsible for democracy and governance-related issues and formulate broader U.S. government policies on global development.
Jeremy_Weinstein  personal  NSC 
september 2009 by elizrael
Ahmadinezhad's Cabinet: Loyalists and Radicals | Washington Institute, August 21, 2009
Ahmadinezhad's list of cabinet nominees reveals his self-confidence and readiness to be challenged by the predominately conservative Majlis.
Ahmedinijad  Government  Iran  IRGC  NSC  Khamenai  Said_Jalili  Majlis  Ahmad_Vahiti  clergy  internal_struggle  female 
august 2009 by elizrael
המועצה לביטחון לאומי - המועדון המשפיע ביותר בממשל אובמה | Haaretz, August 21, 2009
Another silly attempt by Mozgovaya to write anything about politics. Few interesting tidbits about Shapiro
Dan_Shapiro  NSC  James_Jones  haaretz 
august 2009 by elizrael
The Making of an Iran Policy by Roger Cohen | New York Times Magazine, August 2, 2009
deterrence may indeed be the administration’s reluctant bottom line...
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton... “was pushing for a harder line sooner after the June 12 vote,” a Mideast expert close to her told me last month. She was supported by her friend Joe Biden. They did not prevail.... Senior official: "given the profoundly serious consequences of an Iranian regime that acquires a nuclear-weapons capability, the judgment in the end was that it was important to follow through on the offer of direct engagement.”... The Obama administration’s strong conviction, as several officials told me, is that Ahmadinejad’s election was fraudulent. But in the American interest, it is ready to overlook that and to talk....
“The theory was always that you deal with the supreme leader... But then he takes Ahmadinejad’s side. You still have to make the effort...but it’s hard to be very optimistic.” ... Hillary's Iran role is clearly ancillary. Policy is being driven from the White House.
NYT  Obama_administration  Ray_Takeyh  Joe_Biden  hillary_clinton  policy  new_info  internal_struggle  realpolitik  engagement  fraud  Khamenai  Ahmedinijad  Said_Jalili  repression  Aaron_David_Miller  Jewish  state_department  Israel  Bill_Burns  diplomacy  NSC  Denis_McDonough  White_House  Ali_Veltayati  Rafsanjani  Saudi-Arabia  Russia  China  sanctions  oil  deterrence  attack  IranElection  Iran.NuclearProgram 
july 2009 by elizrael
Revisiting Obama's Riyadh meeting | The Cable, July 17, 2009
The former official said that Ross has told associates that Obama was "upset" about the meeting "because he got nothing out of it." Ross didn't respond to a query.
obama  Saudi-Arabia  normalization  Israel  Dennis_Ross  NSC 
july 2009 by elizrael
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