Hamid Karzai calls for end to air strikes in Afghanistan; UN sends envoy to Burma over sectarian clashes; Aung San Suu Kyi makes her first international trip in 24 years; US accuses Russia of supplying Syria with attack helicopters; borrowing costs continue to rise in Italy and Spain; and more

Top of the Agenda: Afghan President Calls for End to Air Strikes

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called yesterday for an end to international air strikes in Afghanistan, calling them "an illegitimate use of force" (NYT). Karzai insisted that, according to an Afghan agreement with NATO, coalition forces were forbidden from employing air strikes "even when they are under attack." Earlier this week, U.S. Gen. John R. Allen, head of allied forces in Afghanistan, announced new changes to rules governing air strikes, saying they could not be "delivered against civilian dwellings." However, Allen said NATO forces could use strikes as a last resort in self-defense.

Analysis

"Afghan President Hamid Karzai has one of the toughest jobs in the world--and he's held it for a decade. With NATO forces set to depart Afghanistan over the next couple of years, the pressure on Karzai is only going to increase. The question for his country--and for his legacy--is whether Karzai can finally step up," writes TIME's Aryn Baker.

"When our forces kill civilians in Afghanistan, we are in a hard place for a number of reasons. First and foremost, because it is awful that they are dead. Hamid Karzai does not tend to contribute to calm in these situations. He grasps on demagoguery and plays, disingenuously, on his people's real pain to distract from the corruption. This is his version of the Karzai Rule," writes the New Yorker's Amy Davidson.

"Mr Karzai may claim that soon 75% of the population will come under the protection of local forces, but the ability of Afghan forces to stand on their own remains unproven theory rather than established fact. Doing nothing to staunch the combat while troops are being withdrawn, the exit strategy amounts to little more than firing the same volley of bullets through a longer barrel," says this Guardian editorial.

 

PACIFIC RIM

UN Sends Envoy to Burma Over Sectarian Clashes

UN envoy Vijay Nambiar arrived in Burma's western Rakhine state today amid clashes between Buddhists and Muslims (AFP) that have seen twenty-five people killed in five days of unrest and destroyed hundreds of homes.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick discusses ethnic and religious tensions in Burma on the CFR blog Asia Unbound.

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves today for Europe (BBC), her first visit to the West in twenty-four years. She will travel to the UK, Ireland, France, Switzerland, and Norway.

 

ELSEWHERE:

US accuses Russia of supplying Syria with attack helicopters

Borrowing costs continue to rise in Italy and Spain

 

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

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