Pakistan closes supply route to Afghanistan in protest at drone strikes (+ Woodward analysis); US passes law to pressure Chinese yuan; Korean military talks break down; Ireland announces billions for bank bailout; and more
Top of the Agenda: Pakistan Closes NATO Supply Line
Pakistan closed the most crucial border crossing (NYT) for supplies to NATO-led troops in Afghanistan after an earlier attack by coalition helicopters on a Pakistani security post. The incident Thursday, which Pakistani officials said killed three Pakistani border security soldiers, followed two attacks in a week by coalition helicopters in Pakistan, fueling anger over the growing use of drone strikes.
The rare border supply closure signals a deteriorating military relationship between Pakistan and the United States just three months before the Obama administration evaluates progress in Afghanistan. Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik indicated NATO strikes in Pakistan were being taken very seriously. "We will have to see whether we are allies or enemies," he said. Pakistan is an ally (WashPost) in the US-led war in Afghanistan, but it does not allow international combat troops or operations on its soil. On Monday, Pakistan protested NATO helicopters' use of Pakistani airspace to attack insurgents in Pakistan. It called the moves a violation of the UN mandate for coalition forces in Afghanistan, which requires operations to stop at the border. NATO said it had launched an investigation (al-Jazeera) into the reports. Previously, NATO has said it has the right to self defense.
In the Washington Post, an adaptation of Bob Woodward's new book Obama's Wars describes President Obama's long-held view that Afghanistan was threatened by a "cancer" in Pakistan, which was a safe haven where al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban could recruit Westerners whose passports allowed them to move freely in Europe and North America.
In the Wall Street Journal, Sadanand Dhume says Pakistan could learn about economic growth and confronting terrorism from former eastern province Bangladesh.
On Stratfor, George Friedman says Obama is "not going to order a complete withdrawal of all combat forces any time soon--the national (and international) political alignment won't support such a step. At the same time, remaining in Afghanistan is unlikely to achieve any goal and leaves potential rivals like China and Russia freer rein."
PACIFIC RIM: US House Passes Bill Against Chinese Yuan
The US House of Representatives passed legislation to pressure China (Xinhua) to let its currency rise faster. The bill treats China's exchange rate as a subsidy that allows extra duties on Chinese goods entering the United States (Reuters). A day earlier, China urged US lawmakers to recognize the importance of Sino-US trade and economic ties and to avoid protectionist measures against China.
This Backgrounder examines China-US economic imbalances.
North/South Korea: The first military talks between North and South Korea for two years broke down without progress (DailyTelegraph), as the North sent a delegation to China.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula need to be managed carefully so that growing South Korean and US intolerance for Korean belligerence doesn't lead to unintended military escalation, say CFR's Scott Snyder and Paul Stares.
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org