Thursday, May 13, 2010

FP morning brief 5/13

All Smiles at Obama-Karzai Meeting; Thai Protests Pressured

In a show of unity, the joint news conference held by U.S. President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the White House East Room avoided the issues that had strained relations between the two erstwhile allies in recent months. Rather than repeating his criticism of the Karzai government's endemic corruption, Obama called recent reports of tensions "overstated" and reiterated their shared goal of defeating al Qaeda. Karzai, who just last month had threatened to join the Taliban insurgency that U.S. troops are fighting, also spoke warmly of his emotional experience meeting wounded veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The Afghan government must not only recover the trust of the U.S. government, but its own people. Almost a year after Obama laid out a new war strategy in the country, international and local forces are struggling to meet the benchmarks laid out by the leadership. As U.S. forces prepare to lead an offensive in the Taliban's heartland of Kandahar, they are having difficulty convincing locals that a return of Karzai's corrupt regime is really a change for the better.

Thai protesters surrounded: A spokesman for the Thai military announced that the military would surround the protest camps of the "red-shirts" in Bangkok, in a bid to end the paralyzing anti-government protests. Protesters would be free to exit the area, but not to enter.

Middle East
The sole survivor of the Afriqiyah Airlines crash that killed 103 people in Tripoli, Libya, is an 8-year-old Dutch boy.
Turkey signed a series of agreement with Russia that will provide the country with its first nuclear power plant.
The hawkish members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition reiterated their refusal to halt settlement construction in East Jerusalem.
Around 250 anti-government protesters in Kyrgyzstan seized local government offices in the southern city of Osh.
The Indonesian government arrested three suspected terrorists in a raid, raising the total captured in the past two weeks to 27.
In the fifth anti-Iran protest to hit Afghanistan in recent days, thousands of Afghans took to the streets in Jalalabad to protest Iran's alleged execution of a number of Afghan refugees.
The British coalition government held its first Cabinet meeting.
European economic growth remained anemic in the first quarter of 2010, with GDP only expanding 0.2 percent.
The European Commission announced that Estonia should be allowed to join the euro zone.
A Venezuelan natural gas platform has sunk, according to President Hugo Chavez's Twitter account.
Congressional investigators suspect that the blowout preventer, which was meant to prevent oil leakage from BP's sunken oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, was faulty.
A Pakistani man arrested in Chile when traces of explosive material were detected on his belongings is not believed to be connected to the recent attack on Times Square.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan named Namadi Sambo as vice president.
Madagascar's leader Andry Rajoelina, who seized power in March 2009, announced that he will not be a candidate in the country's upcoming election.
South Sudan witnessed fresh fighting between the army and forces loyal to a losing candidate in last month's elections.
-David Kenner


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