World News Brief, Wednesday February 17

Operation Moshtarak: bin Laden associate captured but 15 civilians killed; Australian terrorists sentenced; Clinton warns Iran becoming a military dictatorship; Israel gives Russia telling off; and more

Top of the Agenda: Taliban Leader Captured

In a secret joint operation by the Pakistani intelligence service and the CIA, Taliban military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured several days ago (NYT) in Karachi, Pakistan, according to US officials. He is the most influential Taliban operative after Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban's founder and a close associate of Osama bin Laden.

Officials said his capture could lead (WashPost) to other senior members, including Mullah Omar. The joint interrogation by Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officials is considered a significant step in cooperation between the two services.

On day three of Operation Moshtarak--part of a new major offensive in Afghanistan--officials said the joint NATO and Afghan military campaign is succeeding in pushing Taliban fighters (BBC) from their strongholds and clearing insurgents from areas around Marjah and Nad Ali. So far, at least fifteen Afghan civilians have been killed (WSJ). But according to US officials, civilian losses have not damaged their ability to win local support.


CFR's Max Boot says the US-led offensive is an important part of the "hold-and-build" strategy to extend Afghan government control into restive provinces.

In Newsweek, Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai argue pacifying insurgents with jobs and money is central to US strategy in Afghanistan but is misguided.


BBC News profiles Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.


PACIFIC RIM: Five Australians Sentenced for Terror Plot

Five men were sentenced (Reuters) to up to twenty-eight years for conspiring to commit an attack in retaliation for Australia's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.



Clinton Speaks on Iran
Worries for India-Pakistan Talks
Russia Asked to Help in Hamas Deal


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