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A Mole Inside Assad’s Embassy Aided Syrian Rebels

Bassam Barabandi, a diplomat in the Syrian embassy here, was leaving Ramadan prayers at a mosque late one night two years ago when he ran into an opponent of the Syrian regime. Mr. Barabandi knew the man slightly and offered him a ride home. The chance conversation that followed transformed the diplomat’s life. It also altered the fortunes of scores ... Read More »

US-contracted carrier to stop flying over Iran

The company whose flight from Afghanistan was forced to land in Iran with nearly 100 Americans on board earlier this month says it will stop flying over Iranian airspace. DFS Middle East, which provides flights for various civilian personnel involved in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, made the announcement Wednesday in a notice to customers alerting them of a ticket ... Read More »

Scotland Heads to the Polls for Independence Vote

After a passionate campaign that spanned two years of mounting intensity but reached back into centuries of history, Scottish voters headed for the polling booths on Thursday to choose whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or to secede. If the “yes” campaign seeking independence for Scotland secures a majority, it will herald the most dramatic constitutional change in ... Read More »

Breedlove may get the ‘force structure pause’ he’s been asking for all along

Pentagon leaders may not go through with downsizing U.S. military forces in Europe given the continuous problem of Russia’s behavior in the east, Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander, U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander, told reporters during a Pentagon news conference Sept. 16. “I have talked to leadership here about a function to re-address those decisions,” Breedlove said days ... Read More »

Baku expresses interest in Ka-52 and BMPT-72 ‘Terminator 2’

Azerbaijan may look to purchase the Russian Kamov Ka-52 Alligator ‘Hokum-B’ helicopter and BMPT-72 ‘Terminator 2’ Fire Support Combat Vehicle, after Azeri President Ilham Aliyev expressed interest in both systems. “Ilham Aliev expressed his satisfaction and directed his subordinates to further study, in association with the Russian party, the prospects of work on the Alligator and Terminator 2,” Esen Topoyev, ... Read More »

Australia raids over ‘Islamic State plot to behead’

Police have carried out anti-terror raids in Sydney sparked by intelligence reports that Islamic extremists were planning random killings in Australia. PM Tony Abbott said a senior Australian Islamic State militant had called for “demonstration killings”, reportedly including a public beheading. The raids, with at least 800 heavily-armed officers, led to 15 arrests. One man has been charged with planning ... Read More »

China’s PBOC Injects $81 Billion Into Top Banks to Counter Slowdown

China’s central bank is injecting 500 billion yuan ($81 billion) into the country’s five major state-owned banks as it moves to counter slower-than-expected growth in the world’s No. 2 economy, according to a senior Chinese banking executive. The move contributed to a rise in Asian markets early Wednesday, but falls short of a more sweeping effort, such as an interest-rate ... Read More »

PT PAL secures more funding for submarine facilities

Indonesia’s House of Representatives (DRP) approved a proposal on 16 September to release IDR1.5 trillion (USD125 million) of state funds to support naval shipbuilder PT PAL’s development of submarine construction capabilities. The funding remains subject to parliamentary approval but is expected to be made available to PT PAL in Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15). The DPR said the funding is required ... Read More »

The Islamic State’s Vulnerability

As the U.S. military joins with its allies and temporarily-aligned enemies to fulfill President Obama’s promise to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the self-proclaimed caliphate that spans portions of Iraq and Syria, it’s worth understanding the vulnerability of that foe. Understanding the Islamic State’s position should help the United States calibrate its policies to fulfill its strategic objectives without losing sight ... Read More »

Senator Tries to Help Frustrated Military Drivers With #OopsWeLostYourCar

After hundreds of soldiers have complained of waiting months to get their cars after moving to a new military base, one senator is taking to Twitter to offer help, using the hash tag #oopswelostyourcar.Democratic Sen. Mark Warner’s Twitter outreach follows a letter he wrote last week to Gen. Paul Selva, who oversees U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), the group responsible for ... Read More »

Lawmakers eyeing lame-duck for defense bill vote

House and Senate lawmakers are holding informal talks on cobbling together a joint 2015 defense policy bill in the hopes that they could approve the must-pass legislation during a lame-duck session of Congress, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said Tuesday. Talks between members of the House and Senate Armed Services panels began because members are under the impression that the upper ... Read More »

House passes bill to oversee VA hospital building

The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans’ hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project. Republican congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado says the Veterans Affairs Department’s oversight of construction projects is dysfunctional and leads to delayed health care. ... Read More »

It’s not 2002 anymore: For Congress, a sea change since its last Iraq war vote

Minutes after President Obama outlined a new strategy to attack Islamic State forces, Sen. Mark Begich issued a blunt rejection of the proposal. “I oppose the President’s plan to arm Syrian rebels at this time,” the Alaska Democrat said, warning of rushing “into another decade-long ground war.” Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said many questions remained unanswered. “I will not give ... Read More »