The Evening CSIS March 9 2015
March 9, 2015
Welcome to The Evening CSIS—my daily guide to key insights CSIS brings to the events of the day plus HIGHLY RECOMMENDED content from around the world. To subscribe, please click here.
Wait a Minute Mr. Postman
47 Republican Senators sent a letter addressed to “The Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” warning Iran that any deal reached with the Obama administration may be overturned by Congress. The letter drew criticism from the White House and some Senate Democrats, as the New York Times’s Peter Baker reports.
The Wall Street Journal’s Damian Paletta dissects the letter with this smart, concise piece “5 Things the GOP Letter to Iran Says Without Saying.”
Dive Deeper: CSIS’s Anthony Cordesman published a new commentary today: “Judging a P5+1 Agreement with Iran: The Key Technical and Strategic Issues.”
According to Cordesman, “The last few weeks have seen a polarized debate about a possible nuclear arms agreement with Iran that has sometimes gone from narrow partisanship to strategic infantilism.”
Allegiance to ISIS
The Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS over the weekend in a purported audio message from its leader Abubakar Shekau, CNN reports.
NBC’s Cassandra Vinograd today published this excellent piece, “What does Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS really mean?”
Meanwhile, the Washington Post’s Liz Sly reports in a widely cited article that the “Islamic State appears to be starting to fray from within.”
Dive Deeper: CSIS Senior Adviser Juan Zarate spoke to CBSN about Boko Haram’s pledge to ISIS.
In an effort to understand the psychology of ISIS and its supporters, a “Multi-Method Assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” was commissioned by Maj. General Michael Nagata, commander of Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT). The assessment was written by “an unofficial brain trust outside the traditional realms of expertise within the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies.”
US and coalition airstrikes continue to hit ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon reports.
In that Number
The number of Venezuelan government officials who face US economic sanctions by President Obama’s Executive Order, which declares the officials in violation of human rights and the Venezuelan government a threat to US national security.
Source: The White House.
Our signature "Asked & Answered" series
Asked: What does Boko Haram's "pledge of allegiance" to ISIS mean for the African terrorist group?
Answered: Richard Downie, fellow and deputy director, CSIS Africa Program: Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State or ISIS marks the final stage in its evolution from a group motivated by grievances against the Nigerian government to one intent on pushing a global jihadist agenda. Boko Haram has been cozying up to ISIS for some time, and its recent videos suggest it has taken inspiration from the group.
The alliance represents a propaganda coup to ISIS, bringing another African terrorist group under its umbrella following similar pledges by organizations in Algeria, Libya, and Egypt. However, it is less clear what Boko Haram will gain from the alliance in practical terms.
Instead, Boko Haram’s statement could be interpreted as a Mayday signal from a group that has in recent weeks been pushed back by the Nigerian military, in cooperation with its counterparts from Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Benin.
Furthermore, the declaration could backfire because it justifies the Nigerian government’s argument that the group poses a threat beyond West Africa and helps strengthen its appeal for the international community—and the United States in particular—to commit more resources to fighting it.
One to Watch
CSIS’s Africa Program deputy director Richard Downie is a leading expert on African terrorist group Boko Haram. Prior to joining CSIS, Downie was a senior international correspondent for the BBC.
Lebanese TV host Rima Karaki has become an Internet sensation because of the way she handled sexist remarks lobbed at her on live TV by Sheik Hani Al-Seba’i, director of London’s Al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies. Must see TV.
“Not since Mao dominated the nation with his masterly blend of populism, fervor and fear has a Chinese leader commanded so much public awe.”TheNew York Times takes a fascinating look at the adoration China’s leader has among the Chinese public and his savvy in cultivating a following very different than his immediate predecessors.
Watch video of today’s events at our HQ.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski for a discussion on the threat of Russia and how to best shift the US approach from a reactive to active strategy. Sen. Menendez spoke bluntly, “Russia must know there are consequences to violating the international order.”
What’s in store at CSIS HQ tomorrow.
Anne-Marie Slaughter will join CSIS for a discussion on “Integrating a ‘People-Centered’ Approach to Foreign Policy.” The conversation will be hosted byFortune magazine’s Nina Easton and is part of the CSIS Smart Women, Smart Powerinitiative. Click here to RSVP or watch live at 2:30 p.m.
This Town Tomorrow
So many important things in this town-so little time. Of note:
The Honorable Sarah Sewall, under secretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights, will speak at SAIS on “Combatting Terrorism: Looking Over the Horizon.” She will discuss the vision coming out of the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism and explain the importance of nonmilitary foreign policy tools in countering terrorism. Click here to RSVP, or watch live at 12:30pm.
On the Hill, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the Navy’s FY16 budget request with Secretary of the Navy Raymond Mabus; Adm. John Greenert, chief of naval operations; and Gen. Joseph Dunford, commandant of the Marine Corps. Both Adm. Greenert and Gen. Dunford will appear at CSIS later this week for a Maritime Security event looking at 21st century seapower.
CSIS on Demand
Last week’s roundtable with Graeme Wood, author of “What ISIS Really Wants,”
The Atlantic’s cover story this month, is a must-watch for anyone looking to get into the mind of ISIS. The CSIS Podcast also goes deeper into the policy solutions to fighting the group on all fronts, not just militarily.
Is the Modi government about to unleash India’s economy? The CogitAsia podcast hears from Rick Rossow, our India chair, about the prospects for growth with the government’s latest budget.
I Like It Like That
Eye catching things in CSIS’s orbit
The Netflix drama “House of Cards” seems to have an endless buzz about it, coupled with endless imitations of lead character Frank Underwood’s southern accent (which many regard as a bad imitation of a southern accent by actor Kevin Spacey.) But, courtesy of Evening CSIS reader Anne Weiss, we’ve come across the worst imitation of Spacey’s accent in this Israeli campaign ad featuring former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren.
Calling it the “most advanced timepiece ever created,” Apple CEO Tim Cook today unveiled the Apple Watch at a highly anticipated event in San Francisco. Cook went on to say that the Apple Watch can do everything you ever wanted a watch to do and more. But amid all the hype, fuss, and nerd-chic glamour surrounding the Apple Watch launch, the bitingly perceptive webcomic “XKCD” points out a time when we weren’t slaves to the clock.
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