Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Wali Karzai, a formidable powerbroker in the southern province of Kandahar–the Taliban's strategic base and locus of the U.S. military surge–had been accused by the United States of having ties to southern Afghanistan's lucrative narcotics trade and engaging in other corrupt practices. However, over the past year, U.S. officials courted his support, seeing him as necessary for stability (WSJ) in the fragile southern region.
A meeting at the White House yesterday ended in a stalemate, as Republican congressional leaders pushed for ascaled-down budget package (WSJ) that would include $2 trillion in savings over the next ten years, absent the $1 trillion in tax increases for which Obama continues to argue.
A deficit-reduction agreement is essential for Congress to move ahead with raising the nation's debt ceiling ahead of an August 2 deadline. U.S. Treasury Secretary TimothyGeithner warned yesterday (WashPost) that if a compromise to raise the debt ceiling is not reached in time, the U.S. could default on its debt obligations, severely damaging the domestic and global economies. Similarly, IMF Chief Christine Lagarde warned that a failure to raise the debt limit could trigger interest hikes (AP) and see "stock markets taking a huge hit." FULL POST
The deficit-reduction plan (WSJ) being discussed would require spending cuts for domestic programs, defense, and entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, while also increasing tax revenues. FULL POST
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner will meet at a budget summit today, aimed at agreeing on a plan to reduce the deficit and lift the national debt ceiling ahead of an August deadline. Obama and Boehner have been in talks since the weekend (WSJ) over a full overhaul of the budget, which could include a significant revision of the tax code and a revamp of the government's three safety-net programs: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Obama, who is set to meet at the White House today with a bipartisan group of Congress members, has indicated that he wants to see savings over the next decade that are significantly higher than the $2 trillion (NYT) sought in earlier negotiations.
In a concession by Democrats, the president is expected to propose cuts in Social Security (WashPost) and Medicare, while extracting Republican support for increased tax revenues. FULL POST
The Syrian army began a crackdown (al-Jazeera) on the northern rebel town of Jisr al-Shughu in retaliation for the alleged murder of 120 government security personnel earlier this week. Thousands of Syrians fled the town (BBC) in anticipation of government reprisals, with over two thousand people reportedly taking shelter in southern Turkey.
At least five thousand armed troops (Guardian) with dozens of tanks descended on the town, which has become the new focal point of anti-government protests in the country. One Syrian refugee reportedly told the New York Times, "They are also burning the harvest and livestock on the streets . . . and troops are shooting everyone who comes along their way."
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, called the Syrian government's actions an"atrocity" (KhaleejTimes), while reiterating that Turkey will keep its borders open to Syrian refugees. FULL POST
As NATO steps up a bombing campaign targeting government strongholds in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, countries that comprise the so-called Contact Group are meeting in the United Arab Emirates today to discuss Libya's future after the expected fall of leader Moammar Gadhafi (BBC).
The group - which includes Britain, France, the United States, Jordan, Kuwait, and Qatar - is expected to outline plans for a joint fund that will support the Libyan rebels. The rebels' National Transitional Council has already set up shadow ministries in the eastern part of the country and named a civilian to head the military in anticipation of Gadhafi's fall (AFP).
The Yemeni regime officially opened a dialogue with the country's main opposition group, the Joint Meeting Party, in what sources describe as an unprecedented political concession (BBC). The decision to negotiate followed a day of mass protests outside the vice president's residence. Vice president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi remains the country's provisional leader as President Ali Abdullah Saleh continues to recover from serious injuries in Saudi Arabia.
The Yemeni opposition (Bloomberg) is pushing the regime to formally acknowledge the transfer of power from Saleh to Hadi in an effort to stoke the transition process and close the door on the president's three-decade rule. In the most recent failed transition deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saleh refused to step down within thirty days and relinquish power to Hadi. FULL POST
Yemeni Opposition Dialogue Dismissed
The Yemeni government, under the current stewardship of Vice President Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, rejected offers of negotiation from a coalition of opposition groups, claiming that no dialogue regarding political transition can occur until President Ali Abdullah Saleh (al-Jazeera) returns from medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.
Officials from the Yemeni regime have said Saleh will return in a matter of days, however medical sources claim it will be at least two weeks. U.S. officials said Saleh suffered burns over 40 percent of his body and a collapsed lung (CNN) in the attack on his compound last Friday. Supporters of Sadeq Al-Ahmar, head of the opposition Hashid tribe, are suspected in the attack. FULL POST
In the capital of Sanaa, a fragile truce seems to be holding between the embattled Yemeni regime (al-Jazeera) and anti-government forces backed by powerful tribal groups. The respite comes after two weeks of pitched battles that have threatened civil war, and as President Ali Abdullah Saleh recovers from medical treatment in neighboring Saudi Arabia from wounds he received when his compound was struck last week.
It remains unclear if Saleh will return, though government sources claim he will be back in Yemen in a matter of days. The country's main opposition alliance is already celebrating the political transition and says it will accept a transfer of authority (BBC) to Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Failing this outcome, the opposition "Joint Meeting Parties" said it is prepared to form a "transitional council" in concert with the "youth of the revolution." FULL POST
Escalating Hostilities in Yemen
Pitched battles rage on in the capital of Sanaa between Yemeni regime forces and tribal fighters loyal to Sheikh Hamid al-Ahmar and the Hashed tribal confederation. President Ali Abdullah Saleh (BBC) was reportedly injured in an attack on his compound, along with the prime minister and the parliament speaker.
The attack marks the first time tribesmen have targeted Saleh's palace (AP) in the nearly two weeks of clashes with government forces. Yemeni officials say the rocket attack struck during prayers at a mosque inside the palace compound.
Clashes between the Yemeni regime and prominent tribal forces continued in the capital of Sanaa today, as the country marches closer to outright civil war (al-Jazeera).
Violence also persisted in the southern city of Taiz, where over fifty people have died since the weekend, and the coastal town of Zinjibar, where the forces of President Ali Abdullah Saleh have pounded a suspected al-Qaeda insurrection.
The Obama administration dispatched top counterterrorism official John Brennan to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in order to increase pressure on Saleh to sign a Gulf-brokered transition agreement - which he has balked at three times already.
The United States and its allies in the region fear the chaos in Yemen could spill over to neighboring countries and threaten strategic oil supply lines (Reuters). FULL POST
Heavy fighting continued in the capital of Sanaa (NYT) this morning as regime forces under President Ali Abdullah Saleh clashed with the tribal family of Hamid al-Ahmar for control of strategic positions in the city, including the Interior Ministry and state-run media.
Unconfirmed reports have put the death toll from the renewed violence at well above thirty people over the last two days. The country is facing increasing unrest in several areas after Saleh refused to step down for a third time, and analysts fear the continued bloodshed could drag Yemen into civil war. The U.S. State Department called for Saleh to leave office (BBC), urging the embattled president "to move Yemen forward." FULL POST
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
Every week we bring you in-depth interviews with world leaders, newsmakers and analysts who break down the world's toughest problems.
CNN U.S.: Sundays 10 a.m. & 1 p.m ET | CNN International: Find local times
Buy the GPS mug | Books| Transcripts | Audio
Connect on Facebook | Twitter | GPS@cnn.com
Buy past episodes on iTunes! | Download the audio podcast
Check out all of Fareed's Washington Post columns here:
Obama as a foreign policy president?
Why Snowden should stand trial in U.S.
Hillary Clinton's truly hard choice
China's trapped transition
Obama should rethink Syria strategy
Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
RSS - Posts
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 4,863 other followers