Thursday, June 24, 2010

FP morning brief 6/22

Petraeus to the rescue in Afghanistan

Top story: Gen. David Petraeus is preparing to take over the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan, following President Obama's decision to fire Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the wake of an explosive Rolling Stone profile. Petraeus accomplished a similar feat in 2007, when he achieved a remarkable decline of violence in Iraq by co-opting former insurgents and overseeing a "surge" of 30,000 more U.S. servicemen into Baghdad. One of Petraeus's most important tasks will be overseeing a major counterinsurgency effort in the southern city of Kandahar. A senior Obama administration officials stated that McChrystal had "just came off the most constructive week we’ve had in a while with Karzai" before he was fired, convincing the Afghan president to become engaged in the details of taking back the Taliban stronghold. Petraeus is expected to be confirmed in his new position by the end of the week.

President Obama reportedly made up his mind to fire McChrystal by Wednesday morning, after consulting with his top national security officials. Defense Secretary Robert Gates appears to be one of the voices who argued against firing McChrystal, warning that replacing the top U.S. military commander would be hugely disruptive at this stage in the war effort. During the 20 minute meeting between McChrystal and Obama yesterday, however, McChrystal apologized and offered his resignation, which the president accepted. McChrystal reportedly did not lobby to keep his job. In the wake of the announcement of the leadership change, Obama issued a "tongue-lashing" to his senior advisers, ordering them to stop their internecine squabbles and speak with one voice on matters of national security.

Pakistani court sentences five Americans: Pakistani Judge Mian Anwar Nazir convicted five American Muslim men who were arrested in Punjab six months ago of conspiracy to commit terrorist attacks. They were sentenced to ten years of labor in prison, and fines of $823.

Julia Gillard was sworn in as Australia's new prime minister.
Kyrgyz security forces accused the deposed president of colluding with the Taliban and other Islamist movements to spark the recent unrest in the country's south.
China and Taiwan agreed to a trade deal that will cut tariffs on more than 800 products.
The European Union fined a bathroom cartel $760 million for price-fixing.
French public sector employees are striking over government plans to reform the pension system.
A train struck a group of people crossing the track in Spain, killing twelve and injuring 14.
Peruvian President Alan Garcia rejected a law that would give more power to the country's indigenous communities.
Gary Faulkner, who embarked on a solo mission to kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, returned to the United States.
The United States pledged $48 million in aid to ease the humanitarian suffering in Kyrgyzstan.
Middle East
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon referred to Israeli plans to demolish Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem as "contrary to international law" and "unhelpful."
Syria jailed a prominent human rights activist.
Two suicide bombers killed five people in northern Iraq.
Kenya opened a special court to try pirates.
More than 75 people have been killed in a train crash in Congo-Brazzaville.
Drugmaker Merck & Co. announced that it was expanding its business in South Africa.
-David Kenner

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