Top of the Agenda: Afghan President Calls for End to Air Strikes
Afghan President Hamid Karzai called yesterday for an end to international air strikes in Afghanistan, calling them "an illegitimate use of force" (NYT). Karzai insisted that, according to an Afghan agreement with NATO, coalition forces were forbidden from employing air strikes "even when they are under attack." Earlier this week, U.S. Gen. John R. Allen, head of allied forces in Afghanistan, announced new changes to rules governing air strikes, saying they could not be "delivered against civilian dwellings." However, Allen said NATO forces could use strikes as a last resort in self-defense.
"Afghan President Hamid Karzai has one of the toughest jobs in the world--and he's held it for a decade. With NATO forces set to depart Afghanistan over the next couple of years, the pressure on Karzai is only going to increase. The question for his country--and for his legacy--is whether Karzai can finally step up," writes TIME's Aryn Baker.
"When our forces kill civilians in Afghanistan, we are in a hard place for a number of reasons. First and foremost, because it is awful that they are dead. Hamid Karzai does not tend to contribute to calm in these situations. He grasps on demagoguery and plays, disingenuously, on his people's real pain to distract from the corruption. This is his version of the Karzai Rule," writes the New Yorker's Amy Davidson.
"Mr Karzai may claim that soon 75% of the population will come under the protection of local forces, but the ability of Afghan forces to stand on their own remains unproven theory rather than established fact. Doing nothing to staunch the combat while troops are being withdrawn, the exit strategy amounts to little more than firing the same volley of bullets through a longer barrel," says this Guardian editorial.
UN Sends Envoy to Myanmar Over Sectarian Clashes
UN envoy Vijay Nambiar arrived in Myanmar's western Rakhine state today amid clashes between Buddhists and Muslims (AFP) that have seen twenty-five people killed in five days of unrest and destroyed hundreds of homes.
A recent U.S. drone attack that killed an al-Qaeda leader in Pakistan has further frayed U.S.-Pakistan ties while feeding Pakistani anger, humiliation, and frustration over U.S. aims, says CFR's Daniel Markey in this CFR Interview.
U.S. Accuses Russia of Sending Military Equipment to Syria
IRAN: The Iranian military has begun building the country's first nuclear-powered submarine (NYT), Iranian Deputy Navy Cmdr. Abbas Zamini reportedly said yesterday. The project could help Iran justify enriching uranium at increasingly higher levels.
UN Warns on DRC Rebellion
The UN envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Roger Meece, told the Security Council that a mutiny led by ex-warlord Bosco Ntaganda (SAPA/AP) risked destabilizing eastern Congo and the surrounding region. Meece called for an investigation into reports that the mutinous forces have been receiving support from Rwanda.
IVORY COAST: Authorities discovered and blocked a coup plot (Reuters) by exiled military officers and an advisor to former president Laurent Gbagbo to overthrow the government of President Alassane Ouattara, the interior ministry said yesterday.
ITALY: Police in Italy, Switzerland, and Germany today arrested ten people suspected of involvement in left-wing militant activity (Guardian)--with the Informal Anarchist Federation and the International Revolutionary Front--in Italy and other places over the past three years.
FALKLAND ISLANDS: Officials announced yesterday that the British overseas territory will hold a referendum next year (WSJ) on whether to remain a UK entity, in an effort to resolve a dispute between the UK and Argentina over the islands' sovereignty.
Obama's International Approval Rating Falls
Global approval of President Barack Obama's policies has declined significantly since he first took office, especially on international policies and the use of drone strikes, according to a new Pew Research Center study. As a consequence, the study found, overall confidence in the president and attitudes toward the United States have slipped modestly.