May 22nd, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Why Assad shouldn't worry about NATO

By Elise Labott

As NATO leaders discuss the winding down of its 10-year war in Afghanistan and pat themselves on the back for helping in the bloody ouster of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, there is one increasingly deadly conflict that is taboo for the alliance to even think about wading into: Syria.

Practically every NATO leader has publicly condemned the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and called for him to step down and make way for a democratic transition in Syria. Yet U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder said Sunday that not one leader even raised the issue of Syria during the opening day of the summit.
FULL POST

Afghanistan exit strategy agreed on, Pakistan issue unresolved
May 21st, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Afghanistan exit strategy agreed on, Pakistan issue unresolved

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday that he expects a deal "in the very near future" to reopen Pakistan's border with Afghanistan for war supply shipments.

"So far, the closure of the transit routes has not had a major impact on our operations," Rasmussen said, but added the transit routes were very important and that he expected their reopening "in the very near future."

Recommended: NATO accepts Obama timetable to end war

But the issue was unresolved even as NATO leaders signed off Monday on President Barack Obama's exit strategy from Afghanistan that calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of the U.S.-led international military force by the end of 2014.

Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari was surely feeling some pressure.   Even a normally bland NATO document took note of thanking Central Asian countries and Russia for aiding in transporting supplies, while urging Pakistan to "reopen the ground lines of communication as soon as possible." FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Chicago NATO summit 2012 • Diplomacy • NATO • Pakistan • Rasmussen
Exclusive interview Afghan President Hamid Karzai
May 21st, 2012
01:25 PM ET

Exclusive interview Afghan President Hamid Karzai

CNN's Wolf Blitzer sits down with Afghan President Hamid Karzai for an exclusive interview at the NATO summit in Chicago. This will air Monday during the 5pm ET hour on CNN.

On Monday, NATO countries are expected to sign off on President Obama's exit strategy from Afghanistan that calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of troops by the end of 2014.

Karzai met with President Obama on Sunday and both agreed that the end of the war is close. Karzai reiterated his commitment to the withdrawal timetable, "so that Afghanistan is no longer a burden on the shoulder of our friends in the international community, on the shoulders of the United States and our other allies."

Blitzer is anchoring "The Situation Room" live from Chicago today from 4-6pm ET on CNN.

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Chicago NATO summit 2012 • FIRST ON CNN/EXCLUSIVE • ISAF • Karzai • NATO
NATO countries pledge most of the money needed for Afghan forces
May 21st, 2012
10:24 AM ET

NATO countries pledge most of the money needed for Afghan forces

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

By Elise Labott

NATO has raised more than $1 billion toward the $4.3 annual cost needed to fund the Afghan National Security Forces after 2014, two senior U.S. officials tell Security Clearance.

"But we're over $1 billion, heading for the $1.3 goal, earlier than we dared hope," one of the officials said.

NATO was asked to come up with $1.3 billion in annual costs, with Afghanistan paying $500 million and the U.S. paying the rest.

More announcements are expected by NATO allies and members of the ISAF coalition at Monday's session on Afghanistan.

The current target for the Afghan force is around 352,000 army and police. After 2014 that number is expected to dip to about 250,000.

May 21st, 2012
06:01 AM ET

Arrests and allegations of brutality between Chicago police, protesters

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

By the CNN Wire Staff

Protesters vowed to carry out disruptive demonstrations Monday in Chicago, a day after baton-wielding police clashed with demonstrators in a violent confrontation that left dozens injured just blocks from where NATO leaders were gathered.

Security was expected to be tight on the final day of the two-day NATO summit, which has played out against a backdrop of protests that has seen thousands taken to the street to protest everything from the war in Afghanistan to the economy.

Occupy Chicago, one of the groups that helped organize the demonstrations, took to social media to urge people to join in another planned demonstration at 10 a.m. ET on Monday.

Dozens were injured in a melee Sunday that came at the end of a largely, peaceful demonstration that began in Chicago's Grant Park, where President Barack Obama delivered his presidential acceptance speech in 2008.

Read the full CNN.com story here.

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Filed under: Chicago NATO summit 2012 • NATO
May 21st, 2012
05:59 AM ET

U.S. Ambassador: NATO has no plans for military intervention in Syria

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

By the CNN Wire Staff

The U.S. ambassador to NATO says the alliance has no plans for military intervention in the Syrian crisis, as reports of deaths mount by the dozens and diplomatic efforts have yet to stymie the bloodshed.

Ivo Daalder told reporters late Sunday there is "no planning going on that's related to a NATO role in Syria."

"As it relates to NATO planning, a NATO ally has to come forward and request that type of planning. So that's a circumstance that hasn't taken place," the ambassador said. "We'd obviously take any requests of that nature seriously if it were to be made."

Daalder also said NATO, along with European allies and Arab partners, has provided assistance to the Syrian opposition, including political and diplomatic support.

Read the full CNN.com story here.

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Filed under: Chicago NATO summit 2012 • NATO • Syria
Interim missile defense shield now in place to protect Europe, NATO chief says
Missile interceptors will be loaded on a U.S. warship in the Mediterranean, as part of the NATO plan.
May 21st, 2012
04:29 AM ET

Interim missile defense shield now in place to protect Europe, NATO chief says

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

By the CNN Wire Staff

NATO's chief says the alliance now has interim ballistic missile defense capability in Europe, a move that is likely to further heighten tensions with Russia over its objection to a missile defense shield.

"It is the first step towards our long-term goal of providing full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces," Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters Sunday, the first day of a two-day NATO summit in Chicago.

Among the so-called interim capabilities are missile interceptors loaded on a U.S. ship in the Mediterranean, the first of four anticipated warships with the defense system, Rasmussen said. A defense radar is also operational in Turkey, he said.

NATO has asked Russia to participate in the system but negotiations have been deadlocked over Russia's demand for a legally binding treaty guaranteeing the shield would not be used as a deterrent to Moscow's own systems.

Read the full CNN.com story here.

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Filed under: Chicago NATO summit 2012 • Europe • NATO • Rasmussen
May 21st, 2012
02:56 AM ET

NATO takes up Obama timetable to end war in Afghanistan by 2014

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

By Elise Labbott and Mike Mount

NATO countries are expected to sign off Monday on U.S. President Barack Obama's exit strategy from Afghanistan that calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of troops by the end of 2014.

Against a backdrop of massive demonstrations that saw violent clashes between protesters and police, NATO and world leaders gathered at the summit in Chicago to sketch out the end of an unpopular war and figure out how to pay for shoring up Afghanistan's security forces.

Obama made clear Sunday as the summit opened that he expects the NATO nations and their strategic partners to agree to the withdrawal plan, while assuring Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the 28-nation alliance would not abandon the country.

"Just as we have sacrificed together for our common security, we will stand together united in our determination to complete this mission," Obama said at the start of the summit.

Read the full CNN.com story here.

NATO terror plot details emerge
May 20th, 2012
05:30 PM ET

NATO terror plot details emerge

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

Two suspects who appeared in court in Cook County, Illinois, on Sunday are not believed to be part of an alleged terror plot in Chicago during the NATO summit, prosecutors said Sunday.

Instead, charges against the two arose from "related investigations," authorities said.

Three men had previously been charged in the NATO plot, with authorities saying they planned to target President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters, the home of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and several other law enforcement and financial sites.

The three men charged in the NATO plot were identified as Brian Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, New Hampshire; and Brent Betterly, 24, who told police he resides in Massachusetts, authorities said. An Illinois judge set bail at $1.5 million for each. FULL POST

May 20th, 2012
02:17 PM ET

Rasmussen: NATO must operate abroad to defend interests

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

NATO must be willing to be involved in conflict away from the immediate geography of the member nations, the group's secretary general told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday.

Rasmussen was responding to a Security Clearance article by CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott which reported that the decade-long NATO involvement in Afghanistan has produced what some have described as collective fatigue among European allies and questions about whether NATO should be involved in conflicts outside of Europe's backyard.

"In today's world all allies realize that territorial defense of our populations and our countries may very well start beyond our borders," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen responded in an interview that aired on CNN's State of the Union.

Recommended: U.S., Pakistan fail to reach deal on supply routes ahead of NATO meetings

In regards to Afghanistan, Rasmussen said NATO members are starting to pledge the money needed to support Afghanistan, an issue that the U.S. is raising with other countries.  Rasmussen described himself as "optimistic" the necessary funds to support Afghanistan's forces will be achieved. FULL POST

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