Top of the Agenda: Militants Attack Afghan Delegation
Militants this morning attacked an Afghan government delegation (NYT) that was visiting a southern village where a U.S. soldier allegedly shot sixteen civilians over the weekend. At least one Afghan soldier was killed when the militants opened fire at the end of a memorial service for some of the victims of Sunday's shooting spree. The Taliban has threatened retaliation over that incident, complicating its nascent peace negotiations with the United States, but did not claim responsibility for today's attack.
"The NATO allies are seeking to extricate themselves with a modicum of grace and dignity from a situation that has turned foul, and in which their assigned enemy, the Taliban, has not only gained ground but appears likely to regain power when the final exit is made," writes the New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson.
"In fact, the political impact of the latest shootings may be strongest in America and Europe. Officials in Kabul fear the incidents give a damaging portrayal of a hapless mission, lurching from one disaster to another. Each incident also feeds perceptions of an Afghan public exasperated with, or even hostile to, the help being given," notes the Economist.
"Sunday's massacre is another dangerous setback for the United States as it tries to adhere to a plan for drawing down its forces in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and reaching a peace agreement with the Taliban," says this New York Times editorial.
An undervalued Chinese yuan remains a contributing factor to the U.S.-China trade imbalance, but experts warn that labeling China a "currency manipulator" will not rein in mounting U.S. deficits, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
Targeted killings have become a central component of U.S. counterterrorism operations around the globe. Despite pointed criticism over transparency and accountability issues, analysts say the controversial practice seems likely to expand in the future, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
Syria Accused of Homs Massacre
Syrian security forces killed dozens of civilians (NYT) in the restive city of Homs on Monday, anti-government activists said, prompting calls by the opposition Syrian National Council for international military action.
A decision by the United States to intervene militarily in Syria must be made with hard facts and an honest decision about what standing up for U.S. interests and values will entail, writes Foreign Affairs' Jonathan Tepperman in this New York Times editorial.
ISRAEL: Officials agreed to an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire (al-Jazeera) with Palestinian leaders of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad parties in the Gaza Strip, ending four days of cross-border attacks that left twenty-five Palestinians dead.
Violent Clashes in South Sudan
Members of South Sudan's Murle tribe attacked the Lou Nuer tribe in a cattle raid near the Ethiopian border, as the nascent government in Juba launched a disarmament plan (Reuters). Nearly three hundred people died in the attack.
The eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path of European integration, is buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
HUNGARY: The country's new constitution "threatens the independence of the judiciary" (DerSpiegel), according to a new report by the Council of Europe. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been criticized by EU officials for allegedly trying to consolidate his power in violation of European democratic norms.
Obama, Cameron Outline 'Essential Relationship'
The world "counts on" the U.S.-British alliance, U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in a joint op-ed in the Washington Post. Cameron is set to begin a three-day visit to Washington today.
GUATEMALA: A court sentenced former soldier Pedro Pimentel Rios, extradited from the United States last year, to 6,060 years in prison (BBC) for participating in the massacre of 201 people during the country's civil war in 1982.
GOP candidate Newt Gingrich, also speaking at the energy summit, said if domestic oil production had a boom comparable to natural gas, which has experienced a major production increase in the last few years, gasoline would drop to a little over a dollar.
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