Flash Points: Juan Zarate on Hot Topics Around the Globe

CBS' National Security Analyst Juan Zarate appeared today on "Washington Unplugged" to discuss the most important national security and foreign policy concerns affecting the U.S. He began with the continuous shifting of terrorist incidences between Middle Eastern countries.

"This follows trend lines we have seen in the past," Zarate told moderator Bob Sheiffer. "With the number of incidences in places like Iraq going down which is good news, relatively, incidences in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan are going up."

Zarate said these attacks were consistent with recent news, such as attacks and fighting in Waziristan and western Pakistan.

Moving on, Zarate commented on Afghanistan's possible reconciliation with the Taliban, and how this will play into Mr. Karzai's upcoming visit with Mr. Obama at the White House.

"There's a furious debate going on in Afghanistan how best to bring in the Taliban at a time when the Taliban maintains a certain degree of popularity and power, he said. "We have a recent report from the Pentagon to Congress...which indicates the Taliban is increasing its reach, its capability, and popularity.

Zarate's third most important ongoing security issue was the "fist fights, smoke bombs, and egg throwing," that broke out in the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday after their Congress voted to extend Russian Black Sea Fleet's lease at a Crimean port for another 25 years in return for cheaper gas.

"This wasn't a frat party at Chico State," said Zarate, "It is symbolic of greater jostling that's happening within Ukraine and the region with the Russians trying to reassert power."

Zarate said this power assertion has been seen recently in countries like Kyrgyzstan and now Ukraine, and said it had some U.S. allies like Georgia very worried.

"In some ways the Russians are still caught in this Cold War dynamic of Russia verses the U.S., Russia versus NATO, and the U.S. is trying to pull out of that paradigm," Zarate continued.

Finally, the topic of piracy entered the discussion, with Zarate saying, "piracy continues unabated in East Africa, and the pirates continue to profit."

"Despite the efforts of the best Navies in the world," he said, pirates were continuing to get more brazen and venturing further east from the African coast line.

"Incidences are down slightly this year based on a comparison of numbers, but they continue," he said. "We have ten vessels still being held hostage be the pirates in East Africa."

Watch the interview above, or check out the full show here -- which also includes a report from Fernando Suarez in Florida ahead of Gov. Charlie Crist's expected announcement that he will run for Senate as an independent.

"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download
The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App