World News Brief, Wednesday December 14

US and Iraq negotiate post-war partnership just weeks from withdrawal; Obama warns Iran to respect Iraq's sovereignty; China has been cyber-spying, US intelligence claims; Over 5000 dead in Syria since Assad crackdown; "Holiday Man" working presidential bid in Russia; Canada pulls out of Kyoto after years of complaint; and more

Top of the Agenda: US and Iraq Forge New Partnership

US President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met at the White House yesterday to outline a new partnership (WashPost), weeks before the United States is set to complete its military withdrawal from Iraq after nine years of conflict.

Obama pledged US civilian and military support for Iraq, and said his administration planned to sell a second installment of eighteen F-16 fighter plans to Iraq. While there will be no US bases or troops stationed in Iraq after this month, Obama said US military officials would continue to train Iraqi forces (WSJ).

In a message aimed at Iran, Obama warned Iraq's neighbors (al-Jazeera) not to undermine the country's sovereignty.

Differences between Iraq and the United States were on display during the leaders' joint White House appearance, particularly over the Syrian crackdown against anti-government protesters. Maliki refused to endorse Obama's demand (NYT) that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down.


CFR's Stephen Biddle says Iraqis are likely to muddle through on providing their own security following the US drawdown at year's end.

This CFR Timeline offers an interactive slideshow detailing events since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

When the last US troops leave on December 31, Iraqi forces will destroy Camp Ashraf, home to thousands of Iranian refugees, writes Geoffrey Robertson in Newsweek.

Night raids and mass arrests come as the United States prepares to leave Iraq, leading Western officials to question the country's course under Maliki, write The New York Times' Jack Healy, Tim Arango, and Michael S. Schmidt.



US Probes China Cyber-Spying

US intelligence agencies have identified a number of Chinese groups that have been cyber-spying on the United States, the majority of which are sponsored by the Chinese military (WSJ). Foreign governments, non-state actors, and criminal groups are targeting the digital networks of the United States with increasing frequency and sophistication. US cybersecurity has made progress, but relies heavily on the private sector to secure infrastructure critical to national security, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

PHILIPPINES: Police arrested a former top election official, Benjamin Abalos, charged with aiding former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo with election rigging (al-Jazeera) in 2007.



Syrian death toll above 5,000, says UN

Billionaire to challenge Putin in election

Canada to withdraw from Kyoto treaty


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on