US bucks international consensus over Jerusalem; Navy blames Congress for wasting $4B; ISIS war leaves Philippine island in ruins; A drone that drops from a fake bomb; and just a bit more...
Despite warnings from more than a dozen nations and organizations, President Trump is scheduled to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, kicking off plans to build a new U.S. embassy there — and quite possibly aggravate tensions with Muslims in the Middle East and across the world.
A running list of the countries and organizations that have warned Trump against Jerusalem move include: Jordan, France, Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Palestine, Morocco, Kuwait, Germany, Arab League, the EU and Iraq. (list compiled by Al-Hayat’s Joyce Karam)
The traditional problem with this decision: “No other countries have their embassies in Jerusalem, under a long-standing international consensus that the city’s status should be decided in a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” the Washington Post reports. “Israel annexed East Jerusalem, which contains most of the important holy sites for Jews, Muslims and Christians, after the 1967 war with Arab powers. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, while many Israelis and some in the United States consider the city sector to be already and irrevocably under Israeli administration.”
The State Department even warned violence could break out near U.S. embassies worldwide, sending “a classified memo to embassies in the Middle East late last month warning of potential anti-American protests,” the Post writes.
And the Defense Department has positioned additional troops closer to unspecified embassies, should unrest occur.
Three “days of rage” are supposed to begin today in a response jointly announced by certain Palestinian factions, the Post adds. “In a statement, they called on supporters around the world to gather in city centers and at Israeli embassies and consulates to voice their anger.”
Overheard at the Pentagon on Tuesday: "We are so much better at being terrible than everyone else."
Joked satirist Karl Sharro, on Twitter: "I love when they warn of 'disturbing the peace process'. Yeah, be careful, you might wake it up."
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North Korea's New Missile Is a Game-Changer // Joe Cirincione: Photos show a nose cone big enough to carry multiple warheads, plus countermeasures that U.S. missile defenses have never been tested against.
Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Email us. And if you don’t subscribe already, consider subscribing. It’s free. OTD1950: Encircled U.S. Marines begin their breakout at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea.
Bold move. An unnamed State Department official has called for ceasefire in Yemen, Voice of America reports following Tuesday’s presser at State by spox Heather Nauert. "We are incredibly concerned about the violence there," Nauert said — never using the term “ceasefire” for Yemen (but she did use the term a couple few times for Syria). To her credit, she did, in closing, “call upon folks in the region to refrain from violence.”
That unnamed official to VOA: "All sides must end the fighting and return to U.N.-mediated negotiations toward a comprehensive political agreement.”
SecDef Mattis on Yemen. The secretary returned stateside last night from his MidEast-Pakistan swing, Reuters’ Idrees Ali reported. Upon landing, Ali writes, Mattis “declined to comment on the expected recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He did, however, say he expected the already dire humanitarian situation in Yemen to worsen after Saleh’s killing.”
Mattis, in full: “One thing I think I can say with a lot of concern and probably likelihood is that the situation for the innocent people there, the humanitarian side, is most likely to (get) worse in the short term. So this is where we’ve all got to roll up our sleeves. Now, what are you going to do about medicine and food and clean water and cholera. I think there has got to be a lot more focus on the humanitarian side right now.”
Added Ali, in closing: “Mattis said he did not believe the U.S. military would play a role in easing the humanitarian situation.” Read on, here.
Update to U.S. military forces in Syria: You’re gonna stay “as long as we need to,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Agence France-Presse Tuesday. “Now that the jihadists have been cleared from all but a few pockets of territory, the United States has been assessing what its presence will be going forward in the civil-war-torn nation. Pahon said its troop commitment in Syria would be 'conditions-based,' meaning that no timeline will determine if and when the US will pull out." A tiny bit more, here.
In Iraq, everyone knows celebrating the fall of ISIS is still premature. That’s because, among other things, security forces are finally reaching remote "smuggling routes and militant hideouts" in western Iraq that have been effectively off-limits since at least 2003, the Washington Post reports.
Remember the Philippines’ war on ISIS on that southern island of Marawi? The place is now in “ruins after liberation from ISIS,” Military Times reported Tuesday.
Helping them return focus to Marawi: a new 9-minute hooah video produced for the Philippine commandos. Writes MTs: “Noticeably absent from the Philippine video are American advisers who were on the ground advising Philippine commandos. But, evidence of American material support can be seen throughout the video. The video shows Philippine forces equipped with an array of American weapons, including M4s, rifle optics, PEQ-2 laser designators, grenade launchers, machine guns, and Harris tactical radio systems.” Read more from their coverage, here.
Russia says it can help in North Korea now. But how? Through chatting, evidently. “We have channels, through which we are conducting a dialogue, and we are ready to deploy them, we are ready to exert our influence on North Korea,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said Tuesday, according to state-run RIA news — and relayed by Reuters.
ICYMI: Reuters TV devotes the first minute of this new review to an alleged “Islamist” IED plot to kill the UK prime minister. It was foiled and now the accused face the Westminster Magistrates' Court on terror charges this morning, Sky News reported Tuesday.
Army to start direct-commissioning cybersecurity officers. In a bid to bring top-tier talent into a vital skill area, five civilians a year will receive military commissions and training, starting in February. Stars and Stripes, here.
Navy: Congress’ failures have wasted $4B since 2011. With four days to go before the latest shutdown deadline, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer let lawmakers have a taste of the services’ frustration with continuing resolutions instead of regular annual budgets. “We have put $4 billion in a trash can, poured lighter fluid on it, and burned it,” Spencer said, as quoted by Federal News Radio. “Four billion is enough to buy a squadron of F-35s, two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, 3,000 Harpoon missiles. It’s enough money to buy us additional capacity that we need.”
“Forged by the Sea”: That’s the Navy’s new recruiting slogan, to be officially launched in a pair of commercials during this weekend’s Army-Navy football game. USNI News has more, here. Readers: what do you think of the new slogan?
Lastly today: Erik Prince keeps pitching his mercenary businesses to the White House. The Intercept reported Tuesday that the Blackwater founder and a retired CIA-er have worked up a series of proposals for “a global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies.” And they’ve taken those proposals to White House officials.
Words used to describe it, according to unnamed officials speaking to The Intercept: “off the books,” “direct-action arm,” “report to the president and Pompeo directly,” and — conversely — “wildly inaccurate information by people peddling an agenda.”
CNN claims to have confirmed portions of The Intercept’s report, adding Tuesday evening — per another unnamed U.S. official: "This idea is going nowhere." More here.