Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Troops fighting on behalf of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) entered the city (al-Jazeera) of Sirte, the birthplace of ousted leader Muammar al-Qaddafi and one of his last remaining bastions of support.
NTC fighters were held at bay on the outskirts of Sirte for weeks by heavy artillery and rocket fire launched by Qaddafi loyalists. But with the help of continued NATO airstrikes, NTC troops pushed into the city on Wednesday and captured the southern district of Bouhadi. Commanders have called for a "final push" (Reuters) to take the remainder of the city.
Many civilians have been caught in the middle of the fighting with inadequate food supplies and medical treatment. International aid agencies warn of a growing humanitarian crisis (IOL) in Sirte.
Meanwhile, some NTC fighters burned and looted (LAT) the homes of Qaddafi loyalists in the village of Abu Hadi, just outside of Sirte.
NATO commanders face a tough balancing act during the bloody battle for Qaddafi's last strongholds, Sirte and Bani Walid, writes Reuters' Justyna Pawlak.
Anti-Qaddafi militias, often operating independently of the NTC, carry out their own versions of justice, often placing suspected loyalists in prisons and secret detention centers without trial, and even torturing some of them, writes TIME's Abigail Hauslohner.
As Libya moves ahead with a leadership transition, it faces challenges, including restarting the economy, dealing with humanitarian abuses, and the rising influence of Islamists, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.
MIDDLE EAST: UNESCO Backs Palestinian State Bid
The executive committee of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted in favor of the Palestinian Authority's bid (al-Jazeera) to become a member of the cultural body, with rights as a sovereign state. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized the move.
PACIFIC RIM: U.S. Senate to Vote on China Currency Bill
The U.S. Senate is set to vote today on legislation to sanction China for undervaluing its currency. The move would impose tariffs (NPR) on Chinese imports to the United States. China has warned that the move could ignite a trade war between the two countries.
Since the 1949 Communist victory in China, U.S.-Sino relations have wavered between tense standoffs and attempts to bridge strategic and ideological differences. This CFR Timeline offers a visual account of U.S. Relations with China.
Japan: The former leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, Ichiro Ozawa, went on trial for allegedly breaking political fundraising laws (BBC) by overseeing his staff's false accounting. The scandal has weakened Japan's ruling party.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA: Plot to Kill Karzai Thwarted
Afghan security officials arrested six men (LAT) involved in a plot to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The scheme was hatched in Pakistan's tribal areas by an Egyptian and a Bangladeshi with ties to al-Qaeda and the militant Haqqani network.
Don Rassler and Vahid Brown of West Point's Combating Terrorism Center report on the role of the local Haqqani network in the evolution of a global al-Qaeda, with roots in the political context of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 1970s.
Afghanistan: Two hundred Afghans demonstrated in Kabul against the United States and its "Afghan puppets" on the eve of the ten-year anniversary (AFP) of the Afghanistan war.
This CFR Timeline examines the events that precipitated the U.S. war in Afghanistan as well as the history of the war.
AFRICA: Red Cross to Deliver Aid to Militant-Controlled Somalia
The International Committee of the Red Cross announced a new push to distribute food, seed, and fertilizer to famine-stricken Somalis (CNN) in areas of the country controlled by the separatist Islamist group al-Shabaab. The Red Cross reportedly negotiated directly with the militants.
This CFR Backgrounder offers a profile of the al-Shabaab Islamist militant organization based in southern Somalia.
Namibia: Germany returned human skulls (Mail&Guardian) taken from Namibia over one hundred years ago by colonizers who used them to conduct racist experiments. The move sparked fresh demands for Germany to pay for its alleged genocide in the region, considered a precursor to the Holocaust.
AMERICAS: Apple's Steve Jobs Dies
Steve Jobs, the co-founder the pioneering technology company Apple, died on Wednesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Jobs revolutionized the world's digital landscape (NYT) with a range of products, including the Macintosh computer, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
United States: Senate Democratic leaders proposed a new tax (WSJ) on Americans earning more than $1 million per year to help cover the cost of President Barack Obama's floundering $447 billion jobs plan.
EUROPE: Merkel to Push for More Bank Funding
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for an infusion of capital to protect German banks exposed to eurozone sovereign debt (NYT). Her announcement came as France and Belgium prepared to bailout French-Belgian bank Dexia, a large holder of Greek debt.
Greece: Public-sector workers went on strike (Guardian) on Wednesday, shuttering schools, hospitals, museums, and government offices. The workers protested continued EU-IMF-mandated austerity measures deemed necessary to stem the tide of the nation's sovereign debt crisis.
While Greece has failed to meet the budget requirements mandated by the EU and the IMF, experts say eurozone leaders will likely continue to bailout the country because the costs of letting it go are far greater, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.