Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
The two top U.S. military commanders expressed support (NYT) for President Obama's plan for a phased withdrawal from Afghanistan, while noting it was more expedited than they would have preferred.
General David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan, told the Senate Intelligence Committee the schedule was "more aggressive" than he would have recommended. His comments echoed those of Admiral Mike Mullen, who expressed reluctance about sacrificing "fighting power in the middle of war." Mullen said the withdrawal presents a"manageable risk" (ABC).
As the United States looks ahead to implementing the withdrawal, the Obama administration is focusing attention on Pakistan (AP), where administration officials say al-Qaeda and its allies are still plotting attacks against the West. Afghanistan could take on new significance for the United States as a base from which to launch strikes against militants inside Pakistan.
Did President Obama's troop drawdown plan for Afghanistan undercut the campaign against the Taliban or was it too limited to meet U.S. goals? CFR President Richard N. Haass and Senior Fellow Max Boot offer differing takes on the new battlefield deployment.
Seven experts review Obama's plan for ending the war in Afghanistan in this Foreign Policy roundup.
The percentage of Americans who favor removing the troops as soon as possible has reached an all-time high, according to this Pew Research Center survey.
As U.S. forces are gradually withdrawn over the next three years, it is Pakistan's six hundred thousand-strong army (WashPost) that will become the dominant military force in the region and will try to shape its future, writes Fareed Zakaria.
MIDDLE EAST: Tensions Build on Syria-Turkey Border
Syrian forces backed by snipers and tanks stormed the border town of Khirbet al-Jouz (NYT), sending hundreds of refugees fleeing to Turkey. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Syrian troop movements were "very worrisome" (BBC) and warned of escalation. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked Syrian repression as "savagery" (Guardian) and urged President Bashar al-Assad to fire his military mastermind, his brother Maher, and implement reforms.
Large numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees from Libya and Syria could create a dire situation, as many of the countries to which the people are fleeing allow them few–if any–rights, benefits, or protection, says ForeignPolicy.com.
Libya: New U.S. intelligence shows Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi is "seriously considering" fleeing Tripoli (WSJ) for a more secure location outside the capital, although the timing of such a move isn't known.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA: Phone Records Show ISI-bin Laden Link
Mobile phone records (Telegraph) taken from the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad show that he was in contact with commanders from Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a terror group backed by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, in Pakistan's proxy war with India in Kashmir.
Heightened tensions between the United States and Pakistan come as Washington continues to want Pakistan's help in killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda that fled to Pakistan, notes this CFR analysis brief.
PACIFIC RIM: Wen Declares Victory on Chinese Inflation
In the Financial Times, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao declared victory over domestic inflation, saying the government has reined in price pressures and is experiencing "steady and fast growth."
Japan: Japan's Defense Ministry said eleven Chinese warships (AP)were spotted in international waters off the country's southern island of Okinawa. Japan claimed no territorial violations, but the movements are sensitive because Japan and China dispute claims over small islands in the East China Sea.
AFRICA: U.S. Calls for Sudan Peacekeepers
The United States introduced a draft resolution at the UN (BBC) calling for more than four thousand peacekeepers to be sent to the disputed region of Abyei. The area between north Sudan and south Sudan has been the scene of heavy fighting, and a recent demilitarization deal is said to be fragile.
Rwanda: A former Rwandan minister, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, has been jailed for life for genocide and incitement to rape (CNN) at the UN-backed court for Rwanda. She is one of the first women to be charged with genocide.
AMERICAS: United States Announces Strategic Oil Release
Responding to the ongoing loss of crude oil because of supply disruptions in Libya and elsewhere, the Energy Department will releasethirty million barrels of oil (Reuters) from its 727 million barrel reserve. The U.S. release would be equivalent to about a day and a half of total U.S. oil consumption.
With the United States hurting economically, there's a case to be made for easing near-term burdens on the economy even if it complicates long-term policy, writes CFR's Michael Levi, but it's not clear where this intervention ends.
Venezuela: Venezuelan officials issued reassurances about President Hugo Chávez's health (WSJ) after his brother said Chavez would remain in a Cuban hospital for up to twelve more days. His absence has sparked concerns about who would replace the leader, who has been in office for twelve years.
EUROPE: Greece Agrees to More Spending Cuts
Greece has agreed to additional spending cuts (FT) after international lenders found that a €28 billion austerity package set last month was no longer sufficient. Athens must receive a €12 billion aid payment by mid-July or it will default on its sovereign debt.
This Backgrounder looks at the eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path of European integration, but now buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed.
TRANSNATIONAL: G20 Moves to Stabilize Food Prices
G20 agriculture ministers agreed on measures designed to lift global food production (NYT) and improve supplies, while mitigating price swings. The ministers also agreed to remove export restrictions on food for humanitarian purposes and reaffirmed opposition to export bans, which will be taken up by the World Trade Organization.