NATO press release announces new attack plan (+ analysis); China refuses to revalue currency; Obama to meet Dalai Lama; Three US soldiers killed in Pakistan bombing; and more
Top of the Agenda: Joint NATO-Afghan Surge Publicized
NATO and the Afghan military are preparing to launch (WSJ) their biggest joint offensive of the Afghanistan surge and are publicizing their target, a rare military choice apparently intended to intimidate the Taliban. This week, coalition officers--who have been hinting at an offensive targeting the town of Marjah--took the unusual step of issuing a press release about the attack. Senior Afghan officials also held a news conference discussing the offensive. The strategy could lessen military and civilian casualties if many insurgents choose to flee rather than fight and community leaders decide to back coalition forces. The risks include giving the enemy time to dig entrenched fighting positions and tunnel networks, rig buildings, and bury bombs.
Marjah has been under complete Taliban control (NYT) for several months and served as a staging area for suicide attacks and other bombings. Residents said Taliban fighters have been increasing numbers to prepare for the attack, and a local Taliban commander said they would not be intimidated.
Political resistance is building (WashPost) to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's plan to end the war by negotiating with Taliban leaders while trying to woo their fighters.
In the Hindu, M.K. Bhadrakumar says the London conference on Afghanistan gave grounds for optimism.
In a BBC article, Ahmed Rashid says talking to the Taliban could be the only way to end the war in Afghanistan.
In an interview, CFR's Stephen Biddle says two key issues in Afghanistan are whether Karzai will implement reforms and whether the American public is willing to invest the time it will take for a successful counterinsurgency.
This CFR Backgrounder examines the Taliban in Afghanistan.
PACIFIC RIM: US-China Currency Dispute
China signaled it would not submit to US pressure to revalue its currency (NYT), which the Obama administration says is fueling the countries' ongoing trade gap. Separately, President Obama plans to meet with the Dalai Lama (WashPost) in mid-February in Washington, despite China's opposition. China is taking its trade dispute (WSJ) with the European Union over Chinese leather shoe imports to the World Trade Organization.