World News Brief, Wednesday March 23

Coalition bombing close to eliminating Libyan air defences; US tries to hand over leadership as F-15 crashes and allies divide (+ analysis and multimedia); Karzai announces Bamiyan hand-over from July; Japanese radiation spreads to marine life; Europe agrees on vast rainy-day fund; and more

Top of the Agenda: US-Led Libya Campaign Nears Initial Objectives

Following a third straight night of airstrikes, the US-led military coalition is closing in on its initial objectives (NYT) of eliminating Libyan air defenses and establishing a no-fly zone. Officials say the United States is moving rapidly to hand over command to European allies. During the previous night's fighting, a US F-15 Eagle fighter jet crash-landed (BBC) near Benghazi due to mechanical failure, according to officials. Both crew members ejected and are expected to recover safely. The warplane is the first to crash since the start of military operations. The allied air shield (WSJ) will soon stretch across the entire northern segment of Libya, from Benghazi in the east to Tripoli in the west. It remains unclear who will take command of the ongoing international operation. Coalition members are divided over whether NATO (FT) should assume leadership, with France and Turkey expressing opposition.

Forces loyal to Muammar al-Qaddafi pressed on with their attacks on the western city of Misurata, as well as further east in Ajdabiya. Qaddafi's troops (al-Jazeera) retreated from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi following strikes by coalition aircraft.


In this op-ed for Politico, CFR President Richard N. Haass writes that the United States has now embarked on its third war of choice in less than a decade. And like the 2003 Iraq war and the Afghan war after 2009, this war is ill-advised.

In the New York Times, Marwan Muasher of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says that the Arab League's unanimous call for the implementation of a no-fly zone in Libya is what gave the West political cover to take action.


The UN Security Council resolution regarding Libya was passed on March 17, 2011.


This interactive map from the Guardian looks at Libyan military assets and some of the main targets on the ground.


PACIFIC RIM: Radiation Fears in Japan's Food and Water

Japanese authorities detected high levels of radiation (CNN) in seawater near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, sparking fears of contaminated marine life. The government has banned the sale of raw milk, spinach, and other vegetables produced in the regions surrounding the plant.

While many questions remain about the problems at Fukushima, comparisons with the 1986 Chernobyl incident suggest Japan's government is taking the right steps to mitigate radiation damage, says CFR's Laurie Garrett.

China: According to a new survey by the American Chamber of Commerce, US firms are more worried about China's red tape (Reuters) than by its "nebulous" laws, regulation, or corruption. Firms were especially critical of the discrimination endured in applying for business licenses.



- Israeli Ex-President Jailed for Rape
- Karzai Announces Start of NATO Pullout
- Europe Agrees on Permanent Rescue Fund


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on