Pakistani troops and gunships launch operation against own Taliban in border areas (+ analysis); Syrian forces make arrests in 'liberated city'; Thai election seen as loss for urban elite and military; US sends drone in Somalia, one dead; Japan Reconstruction Minister lasts only one week; and more
Top of the Agenda: Pakistan Mounts Attack on Taliban
Pakistani troops backed by gunship helicopters launched an offensive against Taliban fighters (Nation) in the Kurram tribal agency bordering Afghanistan. The operation follows reports that the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network had reached a truce with local militants to use the area as transit point to launch attacks against NATO forces (AP) across the border. However, the military is likely focused on Pakistani Taliban militants who have staged attacks against Pakistani security forces; analysts believe that despite US insistence, Pakistan is hesitant to target the Haqqanis because of historical ties to the group.
Many Taliban have moved to Kurram seeking refuge from stepped-up US drone attacks (WSJ) in neighboring North Waziristan, where a bomb today struck a Pakistani military convoy (AFP), killing three soldiers. Kurram's border with Afghanistan offers the easiest route to capital Kabul.
This CFR Crisis Guide on Pakistan looks at the roots of the country's challenges, what it means for the region and the world, and explores plausible futures.
This CFR Backgrounder explores the terrorist groups that have both emerged and taken sanctuary in Pakistan.
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States have diverging views about counterinsurgency operations and Taliban reconciliation. The three countries are likely to pursue different agendas as the US troop drawdown starts and will likely try to maximize their own gains, says this Diplomat article.
PACIFIC RIM: Japan Reconstruction Minister to Resign
Japan's newly appointed reconstruction minister Ry Matsumoto said he intends to resign (Reuters) after about a week in the job, adding pressure on the unpopular government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan. He was criticized for insensitive remarks to governors of areas hit by the March earthquake and tsunami.
Thailand: Thailand's Election Commission confirmed that the opposition party allied to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and headed by his sister Yingluck won Thailand's general election (AP) by a wide margin.
Yingluck Shinawata's victory in Sunday's general election could mean an end to the violent strife that has wracked the country for more than five years, writes Luke Hunt in the Diplomat. It was a defeat for Thailand's urban elite and military, widely blamed for last year's crackdown on pro-democracy protests that left ninety-two people dead.