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August 13, 2014

News Briefs August 13, 2014

Iraq isn’t Syria: Congress on board this time

Little of the impassioned debate that fractured lawmakers a year ago over possible military intervention in Syria is happening now as American war planes strike extremist targets in Iraq.

Almost a week into it, the Obama administration’s emergency military action against Islamic State Sunni insurgents in northern Iraq is attracting surprisingly broad bipartisan support from Congress.

Republicans have issued I-told-you-so statements and called for stronger action. Dovish Democrats have voiced concerns about slipping into a new war. But outright opposition has been muted.

Iraq’s crisis is in some ways more urgent, though less deadly than the three-year fight in neighboring Syria that has killed 170,000 people.

Obama’s immediate objectives are to protect thousands of American personnel in Iraq and avert what U.S. officials call a possible genocide of minority groups. AP

Shrine wall to be replaced at USS Arizona Memorial

A marble wall with the names of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on the USS Arizona will be replaced over the next two months.

National Park Service spokeswoman Amanda Carona tells the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the shrine room at the Arizona Memorial will be closed off but will be visible to visitors.
She says most of the work will be done after hours.

The original wall was replaced in 1984. The current wall has become stained and eroded from salt water.

The shrine honors sailors and Marines who died in explosions and fires on the Arizona in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor.

Carona says 1.8 million people visited the memorial in fiscal 2013. AP

Russia greets Egypt’s el-Sissi with arms display

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi arrived in Russia Aug. 12 for his first official visit as president and was immediately shown a selection of Russian military hardware for sale.

Russia, through expanded military and economic cooperation, has been seeking greater influence with Egypt, an important U.S. ally in the Middle East.

The military hardware, including new armored vehicles and missile systems, was put on display at the airport in Sochi for el-Sissi, the former Egyptian army chief, to inspect upon his arrival, Russian news agencies reported. He listened attentively to explanations of the weapons systems’ potential, the reports said.

He then headed for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the mountains above Sochi, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Before sitting down for talks, Putin showed his Egyptian guest a cross-country ski center built for games.

El-Sissi, who was elected president in May, ousted Egypt’s democratically elected Islamist president a year ago and then led a violent crackdown that killed hundreds of protesters.

New-York based Human Rights Watch Aug. 12 called for an international inquiry into the mass killings and urged Egypt’s allies to suspend military aid and cooperation until the Egyptian government adopts measures to end human rights violations. Egypt’s government rejected the report.

The United States partially suspended military aid to Egypt following last year’s military coup. Within weeks, Russia’s foreign minister and defense minister had both paid a visit to Cairo. AP

U.S., Australia sign military cooperation pact

The U.S. and Australia signed an agreement Aug. 12 that will allow the two countries’ militaries to train and work better together as U.S. Marines and airmen deploy in and out of the country.

This long-term agreement will broaden and deepen our alliance’s contributions to regional security, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said. He described the U.S.-Australia alliance as the bedrock for stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Hagel spoke during a press conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and their Australian counterparts, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defense Minister David Johnston, at the conclusion of annual Australia-U.S. strategic talks.

Kerry praised Australia as a vital partner in so many different endeavors. AP




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Lockheed Martin photograph by Andrew McMurtrie

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