Week in Review - August 1, 2014

Middle East and North Africa
Latin America and the Caribbean
Central Eurasia

This week, House Republicans pushed off voting for the U.S./Mexico border supplemental package, Congress debated increasing funding for vetted Syrian rebels, Nigeria reportedly purchased attack and transport helicopters and U.S. Central Command visited Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. . Read these highlights and more below.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • On Thursday, House Republicans stalled efforts to vote on the border supplemental package. The House bill, which cuts overall funding down to $165 million, strips funds addressing the root causes of violence and drops human rights conditions on security assistance to Guatemala and Honduras. Politico reported that the Senate will also not vote on their bill until Congress returns September 2.Photo Credit: Bloomberg News
  • Cadets from Brazil’s Military Police training academy started a training exchange on Thursday with Texan law enforcement officials from Dallas. The trainings will focus on procedure and technique outside of the military code used by Brazil’s Military Police (PM), which is the only police force in the world to operate out of military barracks. The country’s Civil Police carry out investigations and forensics while the PM are meant to maintain public order.
  • During a meeting in Asunción, U.S. Southern Command General John F. Kelly praised the Colombian government’s efforts in ending armed conflict through increased investment in social services. When asked how Paraguay could effectively fight its own guerrilla group, the Paraguayan People’s Army, Kelly responded “the best thing the government can do is promote education, health and human rights, benefits that the government must extend to the entire population.”


Middle East and North Africa

  • The House Armed Services Committee held a July 29 hearing on the security situation in Iraq and Syria. Committee members discussed bolstering support for vetted, moderate elements of the Syrian opposition, in addition to support for moderate units in the Iraqi Security Forces and Sunni tribes. Suggested support included advisers, intelligence specialists and combat air controllers.Photo Credit: ABC News
  • Vetted Syrian rebels based along the Turkish-Syrian border received a boost in military and non-military assistance this week in response to U.S. fears the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, will continue to consolidate its control in the region. The increase in support is separate from the $500 million proposal that President Obama requested as part of a larger $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund to train and equip vetted Syrian rebels.
  • The House, Senate and White House debated which congressional measure to include a desired increase of $225 million in U.S. funding for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system.  While the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), endorsed a stand alone bill, Senate Democrats want the increase to go in a supplemental spending measure that would include money for the U.S.-Mexico border crisis and fighting domestic wildfires.


Sub-Saharan Africa

  • During a briefing with reporters at Africa Command (AFRICOM) headquarters in Germany, General David M. Rodriguez, U.S. Africa Command commander, stated “there is no simple military solution to the problem” regarding the growing regional security threats in Africa. General Rodriguez suggested that a solution to the threats will have to come from a collaboration between regional and international partners under the leadership of the local government. The journalists’ visit at the command headquarters was an initiative to strengthen communication ties between the U.S. and the media organizations in Africa regarding AFRICOM’s mission and objectives in the region.
  • To further strengthen counterterrorism efforts, the Nigerian government reportedly purchased 40 attack and transport helicopters from the United States and Russia. This Day Live quotes sources in the president’s office that “some of the attack helicopters ordered would arrive in the country as early as next month.”
  • The wife of the Vice-Prime Minister of Cameroon was kidnapped this past week during Boko Haram’s attack on the Kolofata region of northern Cameroon border with Nigeria. U.S. Spokesperson Jen Psaki announced that the U.S. “Chargé and other embassy officials have been in close contact with the government for some time as a part of a coordinated regional response to Boko Haram. And [they’re] in regular contact with the government and security officials as [they] track the situation closely.”


Central Eurasia

  • General Lloyd Austin, head of U.S. Central Command, visited Uzbekistan to meet with President Islam Karimov and other top Uzbek officials where both sides discussed the security situation in Afghanistan. The visit reportedly comes at a time when the United States is working to “‘rebalance’ its policies toward Central Asia, a policy which officials increasingly admit has been excessively focused on security.”
  • Austin also visited Tajikistan’s President, Emomali Rahmon where according to the Tajik president’s official website, the sides discussed bilateral defense cooperation and regional security issues related to the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
  • Georgiy Voloshin, writing in The Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor discussed the sharp cuts in U.S. security assistance to Central Asia. Voloshin concluded, “As the US seeks to withdraw more of its troops from Afghanistan while pivoting to Southeast Asia, its military stakes in Central Asia will keep on decreasing. This leaves Russia in the leadership position but also augments its overall burden for security and stability in the tumultuous region.”