World News Brief, Thursday March 31

US and Euro leaders debate whether to arm Libyan rebels; Rebels retreat from oil towns as Qaddafi advances again; Syrian President fails to lift emergency laws; Fukushima plant owners fail to control reactors; Cricket unites but India wins; and more

Top of the Agenda: White House Debates Arming Rebels

Members of the Obama administration are debating whether to supply arms to rebels (NYT) battling Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime in Libya, with some fearful that such action will drag the United States further into the conflict. There is also uncertainty as to whether some of the rebel groups may have links to al-Qaeda. In prior statements, President Barack Obama said he has not ruled out the possibility of providing weapons to rebel forces (BBC). Meeting in London, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague both suggested the UN resolution on intervention in Libya could permit the supply of weapons. However, experts on international law claim the UN's current arms embargo (Guardian) on Libya includes all combatants in the conflict, and that the arms provision would require a change in terms.

Experts claim the rebel's recent retreat from Bin Jawad and Ras Lanuf underscores their difficulty in overcoming Qaddafi's heavily armed forces (WSJ), and the question of whether the coalition will need to equip the rebellion for it to succeed. The rebels are expected to encounter increased resistance the farther west they move toward Sirte, possibly facing pro-Qaddafi civilians (FT) who have joined the fight on his behalf. Such a development could also thwart the allied air strikes integral to the rebel advance.


Obama has staked a proper middle course on military intervention in Libya, boosted enormously by burden sharing with coalition allies, says CFR's Stewart Patrick.

In this op-ed for the International Herald Tribune, CFR's Ray Takeyh says that, despite the headlines on Libya, the most important event in the Middle East last week was the plebiscite in Egypt establishing the basis for genuine democratic order.

Though Obama is on solid legal ground in the Libya intervention, congressional support for it could erode if operations continue for months, says CFR's Matthew Waxman.


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

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

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


PACIFIC RIM: Japan to Decommission Stricken Reactors

Plant operators at the Fukushima nuclear plant (BBC) announced they will scrap reactors one through four after failing to bring them under control. The future of reactors five and six will be determined later. Japanese officials are considering whether to cover the reactor buildings with a special material to prevent the spread of radiation.

Indonesia: Umar Patek, an alleged planner of the 2002 Bali night club bombings (AFP) that killed more than two hundred people, was arrested in Pakistan, according to Indonesia officials. Patek is a suspected member of the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah.



- Assad Addresses Syrian People, Refuses to Lift State of Emergency
- Cricket Unites India and Pakistan Leaders
- Obama Outlines Domestic Energy Push


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