Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
News reports this morning say at least twenty-one people were killed in the attacks (NYT). Among the hotel's guests were a number of Afghan officials gathered to discuss a transition to full domestic control of defense, security, and civilian governance as U.S.-led NATO troops end their combat role by the end of 2014.
The raid showed some success (CSMonitor) in having Afghan forces take more of a lead role on security. However, the assault - the first major attack on the capital in more than a year - also raises questions about security (WashPost) in the country.
The insurgents targeted one of Kabul's best-protected buildings and a number of news reports remarked on how well-organized the attack appeared to be. It is unclear how they managed to get in, but some reports say the assailants may have been wearing police uniforms. Afghan officials have struggled to keep Taliban militants from infiltrating security forces (NYT), but screening as many as eight thousand forces a month in the rush to ramp up domestic control is difficult.
On Al Arabiya, Mary E. Stonaker, a scholar at Singapore's Middle East Institute, says the Kabul attack underscores the fragility of Afghan security.
CFR's Max Boot says President Obama's decision to remove thirty thousand troops from Afghanistan in just over a year heightens the difficulty in securing the east and south of the country against far-from-defeated Taliban forces.
In this media call, CFR President Emeritus Leslie H. Gelb and senior fellow Stephen Biddle discuss the planned phased withdrawal from Afghanistan and what it means for Obama's strategy in the region.
MIDDLE EAST: Protestors Clash with Security Forces in Cairo
Protestors and security forces in Cairo sparred for a second day over demands to hasten the prosecution of police officers (AP) accused of brutality during mass protests that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. On his blog, CFR's Stephen Cook says every day "brings some new and often unexpected development in Egyptians' efforts to build a political system.
Libya: According to Le Figaro newspaper, France is providing weapons to rebels (Reuters) in an attempt to help them attack Muammar al-Qaddafi's stronghold in Tripoli. This CFR Analysis Brief looks at whether the recent International Court warrants for Qaddafi will facilitate his demise.
PACIFIC RIM: TEPCO Might Ask for More Power Reductions
Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), the owner of the destroyed Fukushima nuclear reactors, might ask for new reductions in the country's power use (Reuters) if they are unable to quickly bring a number of quake-damaged nuclear reactors in northwest Japan back online.
Thailand: Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra could make a comeback if his opposition Puea Thai Party wins this weekend's election, despite being convicted of corruption and wanted on terrorism charges (AFP).
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA: New Report Warns on Pakistan's Nukes
A new report by the Federation of American Scientists raises concerns that Pakistan's rapidly growing nuclear weapons stockpile (WSJ) may be at greater risk since the emergence of powerful militant groups with links to the country's security services. This CFR Crisis Guide examines Pakistan's security situation.
Afghanistan: The country asked the United States and Interpol to apprehend former head of the central bank Abdul Qadir Fitrat, accusing him of involvement in a major fraud scheme at Kabul Bank, the country's largest lender (AP).
AFRICA: Kordofan Ceasefire Deal Reached
A ceasefire deal mediated by the African Union has been reached in Sudan's South Kordofan to end weeks of violence (BBC).
Nigeria: The country imposed a new curfew (Reuters) on clubs and movies theaters in capital Abuja and banned parking on two of the city's major roads after a bomb attack at police headquarters two weeks ago.
AMERICAS: Report Says U.S. Wars' Bill Will Top $3 Trillion
According to a research project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, the final bill for U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan will be at least $3.7 trillion (Reuters).
Defense expert William D. Hartung says in the Huffington Post there won't be "large-scale savings from the winding down of the Afghan war until virtually all U.S. forces are withdrawn." CFR's President Richard Haass says President Obama should pursue a more sweeping troop drawdown in Afghanistan that focuses a residual force on counterterrorist operations, and helps Washington devote more resources to fixing severe domestic problems.
Venezuela: The mystery surrounding the emergency surgery performed on President Hugo Chavez two weeks ago is triggering speculation about how the country and region might fair (VancouverSun) without the domineering, charismatic leader.
EUROPE: Greece Austerity Plan Likely to Pass
Greek lawmakers appear likely to approve an austerity plan (DowJones) considered necessary to avoid default, despite widespread public opposition. The Guardian gives the specifics of what's being voted on.