World News Brief, Wednesday May 18

NATO ramps up bombing campaign on Tripoli; observers wonder if NATO is putting enough pressure on Qaddafi; Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani says China is his country's 'best friend'; US may send reps to assess food shortages in North Korea; Pakistan fires on NATO helicopter; IMF chief in US prison; and more

Top of the Agenda: NATO, ICC Increase Pressure on Qaddafi


NATO ramped up its bombing campaign on the Libyan capital of Tripoli overnight, pounding targets near Muammar al-Qaddafi's residence, including a security services building and the country's anti-corruption agency. Reports from al-Jazeera suggest NATO, in siding with rebel groups, will not accept a ceasefire with the Qaddafi regime, ensuring continued military action. Qaddafi spokesmen told reporters the regime is prepared to use "human shields" (NYT) at telecommunications sites threatened by NATO airstrikes. The comments came after Britain's top general said NATO would have to expand its bombing campaign to include infrastructure targets critical to Qaddafi's power.

Allegations that the Libyan regime is authorizing the murder of civilians in a crackdown on anti-government rebels moved the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his son, and Libya's intelligence chief. The ICC cited "direct evidence" demonstrating how civilians were attacked at home, and how the government used snipers and heavy artillery to target civilians.

According to local officials, Libya's oil minister and chief of the national oil company, Shukri Ghanem, fled to Tunisia in another high-profile defection (AP). Ghanem is one of the members of the Libyan regime facing U.S. sanctions implemented by the Treasury Department in early April.


This CFR issue guide provides a range of background and analysis on the protests in Syria, Egypt, Libya, and on U.S. policy in the region.

The Obama administration's plan to seize frozen Libyan assets and use them for Libyan aid is a dramatic, and probably unilateral, exercise of U.S. power that is likely to yield a relatively modest sum of money, says CFR's Stuart Levey.

This editorial from the Guardian questions whether NATO is putting enough pressure on the Qaddafi regime, despite its public claims.

Even those who opposed the Libyan entanglement agree that the West must see it through to an acceptable conclusion, writes Max Hastings of the Financial Times, noting that the credibility of the West is now engaged as well.


With the Middle East unrest continuing and the global economy recovering, gasoline prices are rising considerably. But this Backgrounder notes that policies to ease U.S. consumer impact take time and policymakers are divided over the course of action.

PACIFIC RIM: Gilani Lauds China as 'Best Friend'


On the first day of a diplomatic trip to China (BBC), Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani described Beijing as his country's "best and most trusted friend." Analysts say the long-planned trip is intended to commemorate sixty years of bilateral relations, but may irk the United States because of recent strains over the death of Osama bin Laden.

North Korea: The United States will soon determine whether to send representatives to North Korea to assess food shortages (Yonhap). Analysts say it could improve the mood for restarting dialogue.



- Pakistan Fires on NATO Helicopter
- IMF Chief Remanded to U.S. Prison

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