World News Brief, Thursday October 1

Spies inside Al Qaeda weakening terror group (+analysis); Pacific tsunamis kill more than 100; Survivors angry with slow disaster response in Philippines; US talks with Cuban government and dissidents; and more

Top of the Agenda: Troop Increase Debate

Improved recruitment of U.S. and international spies inside al-Qaeda and the increased use of targeted airstrikes have diminished the terrorist organization's effectiveness, according to intelligence officials. The Washington Post says that news has impacted the debate over whether to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, or to build on success against al-Qaeda without boosting troop levels.

The top UN envoy for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, weighed in on that debate, expressing support for General Stanley McChrystal's call for more troops (VOA). Eide told the UN Security Council he believes more international troops are needed to help train Afghan security forces.

Separately, Peter Galbraith, the top U.S. official at the UN mission in Afghanistan, will reportedly be removed from his job (AP) after a dispute with Eide over how to handle the widespread fraud claims in the country's August general elections.


Afghanistan expert Clare Lockhart tells CFR that more attention must be paid to rebuilding the country's battered civilian institutions.

Six analysts offer a range of strategic choices for U.S. planners in Afghanistan.

On Foreign Policy, Caroline Wadhams of the Center for American Progress says sending another five thousand to forty thousand U.S. troops to Afghanistan "will not salvage the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. That's just tinkering at the margins." Instead, she says, policymakers should focus on reducing corruption, improving representation governance, and maximizing the impact of aid money, among other measures.


An interactive CFR timeline tracks the history of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.


PACIFIC RIM: Tsunami in Samoa

An 8.0 magnitude undersea earthquake triggered a series of tsunamis (Reuters) that hit the island nations of American Samoa, killing possibly one hundred people and injuring hundreds more. There were also reports of a smaller tsunami reaching New Zealand and rising sea levels in several South Pacific island nations.

Philippines: GlobalPost reports on disillusionment with the government's slow response to disaster among survivors of this week's deadly flooding.



General Odierno says withdrawal from Iraq on pace.
High-level US-Cuba talks in Havana.


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