Three NATO soldiers killed in Afghanistan -- suicide bomber disguised as police; Japan reshuffles cabinet in bid to soothe row with China; protest at US aircraft transferred to base in Japan; bombs across Iraq kill 37, wound 90; supporters of Venezuelan opposition candidate killed; and more
Top of the Agenda: Three NATO Soldiers Killed in Afghan Suicide Bombing
A suicide bomber disguised as police detonated an explosives-packed motorbike among a group of NATO and Afghan forces, killing three coalition soldiers (WashPo) and at least a dozen Afghans on Monday in the southeastern town of Khost. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came on the heels of a firefight between U.S. forces (AP) and Afghan army allies in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday that killed two Americans and three Afghani soldiers. The spate of violence in Afghanistan has pushed the number of U.S. troops killed in the long-running war to two thousand.
"If the United States is to bring the 'good Taliban' to the negotiating table, it needs the goodwill of Pakistan, which according to many outside observers continues to provide sanctuary to the movement's senior leadership in Quetta and Karachi. Attempts to find interlocutors among the Taliban have made – at best – stuttering progress," writes Tim Lister of CNN.
"Withdrawal from Afghanistan also elevates the risk that the United States, together with other external powers, will be drawn into a number of local disputes and escalating regional rivalries. Over the last decade, Central Asian leaders have consistently invoked the specter of insurgents' spilling over from Afghanistan to justify their own counterterrorism efforts and the need for security cooperation with Russia, China and the United States. Western withdrawal will encourage local elites to stoke these fears, justifying domestic crackdowns, rendition of political opponents and escalation of border tensions with neighbors," writes Alexander Cooley in the New York Times.
"Making clear that we will provide much less help to Afghanistan if it chooses poor leaders may seem obvious, but it was clear recently in Kabul that the message has not gotten through. Too many Afghans think that we will desert them unconditionally, as happened before, or, based on an exaggerated sense of their nation's geostrategic importance, that we will want to stay forever. We need to reestablish our leverage with clear, credible and consistent messaging from U.S. and international voices," writes Michael O'Hanlon for the Washington Post.
Japan Reshuffles Cabinet to Cool China Row
Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Monday appointed Makiko Tanaka (AFP), the daughter of a former prime minister with Beijing-friendly ties, as education minister in a cabinet shuffle that commentators say was a move toward diplomatic progress with China, with whom Japan has been feuding over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.
JAPAN: Six Osprey hybrid aircraft were transferred (AP) to a U.S. base in Okinawa on Monday, drawing hundreds of protesters exhibiting long-standing anger over the heavy presence of American troops on the Japanese island.
Bombs across Iraq kill 37, wound 90
Two supporters of Venezuelan opposition candidate killed