National Security Brief: January 25, 2012

— President Obama began and ended his State of the Union speech last night by reminding voters that he ended the Iraq war and ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. “For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country,” he said.

— The U.S. Navy SEAL team responsible for killing Osama Bin Laden rescued an American and Danish hostage, killing all nine Somali captors, in a special forces raid inside Somalia.

— Not including the Afghanistan war, the Pentagon plans to spend $525 billion in 2013 — $6 billion less than 2012’s budget, which in turn was $22 billion less than the year before that — according to a budget set to be announced today outlining further Obama administration military spending cuts.

— Amid economic woes and concessions by the transitional military rulers, Egyptians filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square by the tens of thousands on the anniversary of the revolution that unseated president Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorial three-decade rule.


— Gulf Arab League monitors departed from Syria today after Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) governments issued a statement saying they were “certain that bloodshed and killing of innocents would continue.”

— A new Pew Research Center poll found that Americans believe that Iran poses the greatest danger to the United States. Fifty-six percent of the people surveyed said the U.S. should bring troops home from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

— Following the announcement earlier this week of a European Union oil embargo on Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that tougher sanctions must be brought to bear on Tehran and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, citing lessons from the Nazi Holocaust, told the Israeli Knesset that Israel shouldn’t shy away from acting unilaterally in its own self defense.

— French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said France “will not give in to panic” and pull its roughly 4,000 remaining troops from Afghanistan after four of them were killed when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them, causing President Nicholas Sarkozy to threaten withdrawal.