Attacks on NATO convoys bound for Afghanistan intensify as Pakistan washes its hands; Drone strikes linked to Al Qaeda Europe plot; UAE banks cuts off another of Iran's lifelines; China and US militaries learning to just get along; and more
Top of the Agenda: Pakistan Tanker Attacks Continue
Dozens of tankers carrying fuel to Afghanistan for NATO troops were torched near Quetta in western Pakistan Wednesday, in the latest attack on supplies (BBC) since Pakistan closed one border crossing to Afghanistan a week ago. The Pakistani Taliban reportedly took responsibility for Wednesday's ambush at the open Chaman crossing. A spokesman said, "We will further intensify attacks with the intensification of US drone strikes on us." The Pakistani government distanced itself from the attacks (NYT), saying it was not the government's responsibility to provide security for the convoys. Disagreements over a joint Pakistan-NATO inquiry (Dawn) into the helicopter attacks that caused the closing of the border at Torkham appeared to be keeping it from reopening. Relations between the United States and Pakistan could be further strained by a new White House report concluding that Pakistan has not aggressively pursued al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban militants in North Waziristan, according to the Wall Street Journal. The report also criticizes Pakistan's civilian leadership, saying massive floods and tensions between political parties have compounded problems facing Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and undermined his already shaky public support.
In the Jerusalem Post, Seth Frantzman says Pakistan's major problems--the massacre of minority Shiites and Ahmadis, ethnic violence, or secessionist movements--have nothing to do with the United States. All of them were "made in Pakistan," he says.
In the National Interest, Anthony Cordesman says despite talk of drone strikes as "intense combat," the number of air strikes in Pakistan over the entire war is a fraction of the number per month in Afghanistan and Iraq, and "we have no alternative way to fight and all of the other options would be far worse even if they were available."
This Backgrounder examines Pakistan's new generation of terrorists.
PACIFIC RIM: Pentagon Signals Thaw in Chinese Military Relations
The Pentagon, signaling a thaw in its relationship with the Chinese military, announced that US Defense Secretary Robert will meet with a Chinese counterpart (WashPost) next week in Vietnam and will likely visit Beijing early next year. Ties between the two militaries were suspended in January, when China protested a $6.4 billion US-Taiwan arms deal.
China/Japan: The number of Chinese civilian boats operating in disputed territory and the clashes they have with foreign vessels, including warships, are on the rise (NYT), according to US and Asian officials.
New tensions in the South China Sea are a growing test to China's relations with the United States and China's Southeast Asian neighbors, writes CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick.
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org