The Evening CSIS March 28 2015
March 28, 2015
Welcome to The Evening CSIS—Andrew is away, so for this week you’re in the mostly capable hands of Nahmyo Thomas and Colm Quinn. We’ll still aim to bring you context on the events of the day and be sure to send you to the best content from within our orbit and beyond. To subscribe, please click here.
Egypt's Red Lines
Saudi Arabia’s coalition has widened to include Egypt in its military offensive against Yemen. Saudi warplanes bombed at least six provinces, while Saudi and Egyptian warships made strategic headway on the takeover of the Bab al-Mandab sea passage. Iran has denounced the strikes, while Egypt’s president called the security of the Gulf a “red line.” The Military Times has the full report.
Dive Deeper: Our friends at Vox have this helpful explainer on how the war in Yemen escalated so quickly, and Business Insider offers five maps depicting Houthi movement and coalition forces.
The Wall Street Journal offers this analysis on the wider geopolitical implications of what many are calling a proxy war between Shiite Iran and Sunni Arab states.
Assad's Charm Offensive
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has intimated that he is open to negotiations with the US, four years into Syria’s civil conflict. Assad made these remarks in an upcoming 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose, which will air in full this Sunday.
Dive Deeper: Foreign Affairs published their interview with Assad from January 20 in this month’s issue; managing editor Jonathan Tepperman has the details. For a broader look at the strategic struggle in the region, read the CSIS report by Aram Nerguizian, “The Struggle for the Levant: Geopolitical Battles and the Quest for Stability.”
In that Number
The rise in Russian currency and gold reserves this week, the first rise in reserves after four months in decline following Russia’s economic slump in late 2014.
Source : Reuters.
A daily shortened sampling of our signature "Asked & Answered" series.
In a recent interview with CBS News homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues, Juan Zarate talked about US interests in Yemen.
Asked: “Why should the US care about the instability in Yemen?”
Answered: Juan Zarate, CSIS senior adviser and former deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism:
"One reason is that we have a critical counterterrorism need in Yemen. It is important to keep in mind that al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, the al Qaeda branch in Yemen, is still deemed by American counterterrorism officials as being the most lethal and the most active, in terms of going after the West. They still have al-Asiri, who’s the most innovative bomb maker we’ve seen, they still have dedicated senior-level al Qaeda operatives that are running their Western operations, and they’re controlling territory—and more and more of it now, amid this chaos.
Another reason is growing instability. The more instability there is in the Arabian Gulf, the worse off we are. It makes our allies nervous, it distracts them from doing other, more positive things. And third, you have a situation in Yemen where what’s happening is a bit of a proxy battle, between the Sunni Arab allies—Saudi Arabia, UAE, their tribal allies in Yemen—and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. And so, the challenge of how you deal with Iran in the world is playing out in Yemen as we speak.
Terrorism, instability, and the proxy battle underway are the three reasons Americans need to be concerned." Watch the full interview here.
One to Watch
Stephanie Sanok Kostro is a senior fellow in the International Security Program at CSIS where she focuses on a range of seam issues affecting national security, including hybrid warfare and increasing threats from Russia. She will be on MSNBC tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. to talk about ISIS branding, social media, and recruitment tactics.
Graphic but powerful, Reuters obtained these 15 images of the Islamist group al Shabaab storming a Mogadishu hotel.
CSIS’s Kathleen Hicks penned an important piece for War on the Rocks this week, “Spanning the Divide between Academics and Policy,” which looks at why politicians and researchers are often at odds and four lessons that academics can apply to the policy realm.
Watch video of today’s events at our HQ.
CSIS hosted a cyber-policy hackathon competition among six university teams. The University of Maryland University College was the winner of the DiploHack. They presented a detailed technical approach to the challenge of responding to the scenario of a cyber incident in the [fictional] Zambonia and building long-term capacity. They will now travel to The Hague on April 16–17 for the Global Conference on Cyberspace 2015.
CSIS hosted a high-level US-Japan Security Seminar to explore various regional security scenarios. Participants included David Shear, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs; Masahiko Komura, Japan’s former minister for foreign affairs; and Ralph Cossa, president of the CSIS Pacific Forum.
This Town Monday
So many important things in this town—so little time. Of note:
Congress may be heading for a two-week spring break, but the think tank community won’t be sitting still. On Monday, be sure to catch the Atlantic Council’s exclusive briefing with Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO allied commander, from the front lines of Ukraine. All the details here.
CSIS on Demand
On Monday, Representative Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, spoke at CSIS to unveil a new defense acquisition reform strategy. He discussed the full scope of his plan here.
Anthony Cordesman goes beyond Ashraf Ghani’s visit and talks about long-term strategy in Afghanistan and the impact slowing the US withdrawal will have, on this week’s CSIS Podcast.
I Like It Like That
Eye catching things in CSIS’s orbit
Not only is astronaut Scott Kelly embarking on a record-setting, one-year mission to space, he’s paving the way for humans to go deeper into the solar system. By running comparative studies on his identical twin brother here on Earth, NASA is taking us one step closer to knowing what life at zero-gravity does to the human body and psyche over time. Here’s everything you need to know about the mission.
If you need more than “Thank Goodness It’s Friday” to make you smile, then there’s nothing better than watching this three-day-old hippo having a pool party at the San Diego Zoo.
I always welcome and benefit from your feedback. Please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.