World News Brief, Friday March 25

Qaddafi forces press forward as coalition airstrikes turn to ground forces (+ multimedia); Questions arise about lack of support for other uprisings in region; Japan food banned amidst fears of tainted food; At least ten dead in Syrian mosque attack; Portugal PM resigns complicating EU summit; and more

Top of the Agenda: Qaddafi Presses Ground War

Ground forces loyal to the Qaddafi regime pressed on with their assault on key Libyan cities (BBC) despite a fifth night of coalition airstrikes. Pitched battles continued in and around the city of Misurata, east of Tripoli, and the strategic town of Ajdabiya. Allied strikes forced the retreat of Qaddafi tanks from Misurata, only to have them resume their offensive hours later under cover of darkness. Al-Jazeera also reports regime forces marshalling assets near the rebel-held town of Zintan.

Having eliminated Libyan air defenses (NYT), US military officials say the campaign has entered a second phase that will focus on decimating Qaddafi ground forces. Coalition air strikes also increased over Tripoli (WSJ), with warplanes targeting fuel depots and local military installations. Military command of coalition forces remains divided, with the United States maintaining leadership and coordinating separately with various militaries. NATO is expected to resume talks on Thursday to clarify the command structure. Members led by the United States and the UK favor NATO leadership of the coalition (FT), while France and Turkey have voiced opposition.


The US and European allies face increasing questions about the extent of their air bombardment of the Libyan regime's forces, as broader regional unrest, especially in Yemen, also poses troubles for policymakers.

In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof writes on the merits of military intervention in Libya, claiming it is worth preventing some massacres "even if we can't intervene every time."

In this op-ed for Politico, CFR President Richard N. Haass writes that the United States has now embarked on its third war of choice in less than a decade. And like the 2003 Iraq war and the Afghan war after 2009, this war is ill-advised.


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


In this CFR podcast, Peter Ackerman, an expert on civil resistance movements, says nonviolent revolutions that have a shared vision of future governance are more likely to be successful than those that turn violent, such as Libya's.

As allied forces resumed airstrikes on Wednesday against Libyan government targets in Misurata, rebels and government forces battled in Ajdabiya. View these images from the Wall Street Journal.


PACIFIC RIM: Countries Ban Japanese Food Imports

Fears of food tainted with unsafe levels of radiation (WSJ) prompted an increasing number of countries, including the United States, to ban the import of food from four Japanese provinces. Experts say the effect on Japan's overall trade should be negligible.

On her CFR blog Asia Unbound, Sheila Smith discusses Operation Tomodachi, the US military's humanitarian and disaster relief efforts in Japan.

China: The price of rare-earth metals (Reuters) broke the $100,000 per ton mark for the first time last month, up nearly nine-fold from the prior year. Analysts claim the rise is due to a squeeze instituted by China, the primary source of the world supply.



- Protestors Shot in Syrian Crackdown
- Portugal to Dominate EU Summit


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