World News Brief, Friday April 1

Qaddafi's foreign minister flees to Britain (+ analysis); CIA and MI6 'on the ground' in Libya assisting and assessing rebels; Assad panel to re-think Syrian emergency laws; Radiation levels in Japanese seawater grow; Negotiations on Capitol Hill hope to avert US governemtn shutdown; and more

Top of the Agenda: Qaddafi's Foreign Minister Defects to UK

Libya's foreign minister Moussa Koussa resigned his office and fled to the United Kingdom in what analysts describe as a major diplomatic setback for the Qaddafi regime (WSJ). US officials said the defection signals the growing rift within the regime's inner circle and hope the development encourages more departures and expands the rebellion. Experts say Koussa was under mounting pressure from US intelligence (FT), including the threat of unilateral sanctions and asset freezes. The British government has not offered Koussa immunity from prosecution (al-Jazeera).

The New York Times reports the CIA has been on the ground in Libya for weeks, helping target US airstrikes and making contact with rebel groups. UK officials also acknowledged the presence of MI6 and special forces assuming similar roles. Experts say the covert operatives are gathering much-needed intelligence on rebel forces (WashPost) in order to inform a coalition decision on whether to provide direct military aid to these groups. US congressional leaders said they received a picture of "mixed progress" in a closed-door briefing with US Secretaries Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. NATO officially assumed command over all air operations in Libya (UKPA) from the United States.


On his CFR blog Pressure Points, Elliott Abrams discusses the implications of the Koussa's defection.

In the Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria writes that the United States is taking on broader ownership of the Libyan conflict and warns of mission creep.

On his CFR blog The Water's Edge, James M. Lindsay continues his discussion of whether Operation Odyssey Dawn is constitutional.


Read a "Vision of a Democratic Libya" (PDF) put forth by Libyan opposition group the Interim National Council.

Read President Obama's speech to the nation on Libya on March 28, 2011.

This UN Security Council resolution regarding Libya was passed on March 17, 2011.


This interactive feature from the Guardian looks at the military assets in Libya and traces the rebel advance, and retreat, as they struggle against pro-Qaddafi forces.

This video from the Wall Street Journal suggests that until Qaddafi is deposed, it will be difficult to outline exactly what might happen.


PACIFIC RIM: Seawater Radiation Spike Persists near Fukushima

Japanese authorities continue to measure rising levels of radiation in the seawater off Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant (CNN). Officials have yet to discover the cause of the spike, but claim the contamination does not pose health risks to humans eating seafood.

In this op-ed for the Beijing Times, CFR's Sheila A. Smith discusses the immense challenges Japan will face as it begins the process of recovery.

China: At a meeting of the G20 in Nanjing (WSJ), China faced renewed pressure from Western nations to let its currency rise at greater speed. The United States has blamed the huge trade imbalance on an artificially weak yuan.



- Assad Committee to Consider Emergency Laws
- Compromise Nears in Budget Cuts


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on