World News Brief, Friday February 19

Taliban holds its ground as troops pour into Marja; Obama meets Dalai Lama; Ukranian election results suspended amidst fraud claims; Syria comes in from the cold in talks with US; and more

Top of the Agenda: Mixed Success in Marja Joint Operation

US and Afghan forces have made modest gains (WashPost) in the largest joint military operation of the war in Afghanistan, but Taliban fighters are still acting with impunity in much of Marja. US and NATO commanders were unsure whether insurgents based in Marja would stay to fight or flee, but so far many Taliban members have stayed. That makes the mission more complex and dangerous and may delay efforts to deliver government services and reconstruction projects. Only one Marine has died and few have been injured.

US General Stanley McChrystal's strategy involves (WSJ) pouring troops into the militant-held area and staying while the government rebuilds and confidence is restored. Afghan and coalition officials plan to begin installing a new administration and starting reconstruction in the coming days.

In five days, most Taliban fighting has exhibited ill discipline or poor skill, but a few fighters have proved surprisingly skillful snipers (NYT), both alone and in guerrilla-style ambushes.


In the LA Times, Andrew Bacevich says the Marines will likely succeed in their mission, but parachuting in a "prefab government," identity, or reality in Marja won't effect lasting change.

In the New York Times, Lara Dadkhah says the United States and NATO need more air power in Afghanistan. It is unwise to sacrifice military strength in order to spare more civilian lives and win "hearts and minds," she says.


This CFR Backgrounder examines the Taliban in Afghanistan.


PACIFIC RIM: Dalai Lama Visits United States

President Obama meets the Dalai Lama Thursday (Reuters), amid ongoing tensions over global economic and security issues with China.

China: Hackers in Europe and China broke into computers at nearly 2,500 companies and government agencies over the last eighteen months in a global attack, the Wall Street Journal reports.



US Engages Syria with Ambassador, Talks
Ukrainian Court Suspends Election Results


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