Daily News Brief

January 20, 2010

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

- More U.S. Troops Arrive in Haiti
- Democrats Lose Senate Seat
- Al-Qaeda Stirs India-Pakistan Tensions
- Nigerian Troops Quell Violence

Top of the Agenda: More U.S. Troops Arrive in Haiti

Thousands of U.S. troops moved into Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to increase aid efforts (WashPost), and the United Nations approved the dispatch of 3,500 additional peacekeepers  . Some 2,000 U.S. troops were on the ground Tuesday and 5,000 on ships or helicopters offshore. The United States is expected to ramp up to 10,000 troops. Many Haitians have still not received any food or medical care, and aid delivery is still hampered by air traffic problems. Medical organization Doctors without Borders said it has had five flights, with a total of eighty-five tons of medical supplies, refused for landing. U.S. troops are working to open more airfields and get more trucks to help deliver supplies to victims.

The U.S. military's arrival highlighted complaints (NYT) that the Haitian government has had little involvement in the rescue effort. But Haitians, are welcoming of foreign troops as long as their presence is temporary. Aides to Haitian president René Préval--who is stationed with advisers at a compact police station that has become the government's de-facto headquarters--said the president would soon address the country for the first time since the quake struck.

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti (AP) Wednesday morning only eight days after the last quake.

Analysis:

On ForeignPolicy.com, Colum Lynch says the Haiti earthquake poses serious political risks to the United Nations and its secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, who has a habit of downplaying crises.

In the Globe and Mail, Robert Muggah says the quake is an opportunity for the international community to rethink its relationship to fragile states.

The Brookings Institution's Elizabeth Ferris says the three keys to Haiti's success are strengthening Haiti's government, supporting its community groups, and letting the United Nations take the lead in relief efforts.

AMERICAS: Republican Senate Victory

Republican Scott Brown won Massachusetts' Senate special election to fill the seat of the late Edward Kennedy, threatening  the outcome (WashPost) of the healthcare reform package by eliminating the Democrats' filibuster-proof Senate majority. The Obama administration has repeatedly cited healthcare reform as important in improving U.S. global business competitiveness.

MIDDLE EAST: Saudi-Yemen Relations

Saudi Arabia is suffering (WSJ) a high death toll in its battle against rebels along Yemen's northern border, as Yemen ratchets up its military offensive against al-Qaeda.

Iraq: At least thirty people were injured after a car bomb exploded (al-Jazeera) outside an Iraqi army base in the northern city of Mosul.

PACIFIC RIM: North-South Korean Tensions

South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said the South would launch (Yonhap) a pre-emptive strike against the North if there were clear indications of an imminent nuclear attack.

Malaysia: Malaysian police say they have arrested (AFP) eight people over the firebombing of a church earlier this month.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA: India-U.S. Relations

Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the United States would not leave (NYT) Afghanistan abruptly In New Dehli, Gates told reporters that al-Qaeda is seeking (AFP) to provoke a new India-Pakistan war.

This Backgrounder profiles the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India blames for some of the most severe terror attacks it has suffered in recent years, including the Mumbai assault of November 2008.

Pakistan: A suspected U.S. drone attacked (AP) a compound in Pakistan's North Waziristan, killing five people in an unprecedented wave of strikes since a CIA base in Afghanistan was attacked.

AFRICA: Nigerian Political Upheaval

The Nigerian government deployed troops (ThisDay) across the north of the country to maintain law and order after some four thousand people were displaced and hundreds killed in sectarian violence in the city of Jos.

Sudan: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said (BBC) he would accept the south's secession after a referendum vote on southerners' their independence next year, which is part of the 2005 peace deal that ended the country's civil war.

EUROPE: Greek Economic Crisis

Due to emerging doubts about the veracity of Greece's financial statements, the European Commission says (EUObserver) it will seek audit powers for the EU's statistics office, Eurostat, to verify elements of the country's public finances.

Netherlands: Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders goes on trial (DeutscheWelle) in the Netherlands on charges of hate speech and inciting hatred against Islam. He has called Islamic culture "backward" and the Koran a "fascist book that incites people to violence."

TRANSNATIONAL: Workforce Productivity Fall

The output of employees in advanced economies fell last year (FT) for the first time in more than forty years, a reaction to the global economic crisis.